By IPS Johannesburg, 19 November 2010
Violence against women is now taking new forms and occurring in online spaces or through the use of ICTs. As more and more women go online using computers and mobile phones, many are silenced through acts of violence, sexism and censorship. In most cases women do not know what to do to protect themselves against such violations. Nor are there adequate measures adopted by telecommunications companies, internet service providers and software developers to protect users’ privacy, security and safety.
In order to explore and highlight issues of gender based violence, ICTs and the role of media, APC Women and Inter Press Service (IPS) Africa hosted a media discussion on November 17 entitled ‘Click Against Violence: Taking 16 Days of Activism Online’.
Jan Moolman from APC Women’s Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP) spoke about ‘Protecting Women’s Rights Online’. “Both ICT and VAW affect our capacity to completely enjoy our human rights and fundamental freedoms. Women and girls are increasingly experiencing violence when using the internet and mobile phones. Acts of violence against women in the real world are replicated online, including cyber stalking, cyber bullying, surveillance and other acts that violate women’s safety and privacy. ICTs are changing the ways in which women experience and respond to violence”, said Jan Moolman.
The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) is currently implementing the MDG3 project Take Back the Tech! to End Violence Against Women that includes a collaborative campaign to reclaim information and communication technologies (ICT)
to end violence against women.
William Bird from Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) presented on the ‘Missing Links’ in how media reports gender based violence. “A challenge for gender activists and the media is to build on the gains achieved. Stories are commonly reported in the media, general rights to dignity and privacy are respected and more women’s voices are being heard in Africa. However we need greater diversity and more women speaking about GBV, less stereotypes in stories on GBV, and ensuring that GBV remains on the news agenda,” said William Bird.
IPS distributed resources to participants such as ‘The Gender Glossary’ and ‘Reporting GBV’ toolkits, as part of the Communicating for Change: Getting Voice, Visibility and Impact for Gender Equality programme. This initiative, supported by the Dutch
MDG3 Fund, seeks to raise awareness about the third development goal’s priorities which are primarily aimed at reducing violence against women, enhancing women’s economic independence and increasing participation and representation of women in politics and public administration.
From November 25 to December 10 IPS and APC calls on women and men to take control of technology to protect the right to freedom of expression and information.
To find out more, download APC’s brief, How Technology is Being Used to Perpetrate Violence Against Women – And to Fight it.
Copies of the IPS gender reporting toolkits can be downloaded from http://www.ips.org/mdg3/publications or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.