The Association for Progressive Communications Women’s Rights Programme (APC WRP) has organised the panel Ending violence against women online: Effective responses to promote women’s rights and safety to be held on Friday 13 March at 10:30 AM at the Armenian Convention Center, New York, as a side event at the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).
At this panel, we will present the final findings of the From impunity to justice: Exploring corporate and legal remedies for technology-related violence against women research. Discussing the research results and making recommendations for the way forward will be Laura Bretón Despradel (Centro de Investigación para la Acción Femenina in the Dominican Republic), Racheal Nakitare (president of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television in Kenya), and Jan Moolman (senior coordinator at APC WRP), with moderation by Jac sm Kee, APC WRP manager. APC WRP will also present its 10 points on Section J to walk through how technology issues impact women’s rights.
Invitation to the event available here
Why is it important to address technology-based violence against women in the frame of the CSW?
As we can see in the cases below, technology-based violence against women (VAW) is an everyday event in the lives and experiences of women and girls all over the world. The same forms of gender discrimination that shape social, economic, cultural and political structures “offline” are reproduced, and sometimes amplified, on different digital platforms.
1. “I considered committing suicide, because I figured that this would send the message that this wasn’t a game,” says Séraphine, a 24-year-old single mother living in Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 2004, Séraphine dated Gérard, who launched a blogging and social networking platform. It was there that Séraphine began blogging and became well known in the Congolese diaspora. Later Gérard moved to France and Séraphine began dating another man, and that is when the problems began: Gérard used the platform to call her names, changed her password to her blog, and began posting personal photos on her page, encouraging readers to post insulting and sometimes racist comments. He deleted supportive comments and Séraphine’s own explanations. Other internet users also started to take photos of her wherever she was and sent them to Gérard, who posted them on his site.
2. Beatrice, 53, lives in Nairobi, Kenya with her husband and children. For a large portion of her married life, Beatrice has been subject to verbal and physical violence. In 2000, the daily violence Beatrice was facing shifted to an electronic medium. Beatrice began receiving violent text messages and calls from her husband. As a result of this repeated and aggressive violence, Beatrice’s self-esteem has been affected; she constantly feels intimidated and scared.
3. “I was a very happy woman [before] – fun loving, easy going, dancing, singing. Now I feel very old compared to three or four years ago. I still sing, dance and laugh, but something has changed inside of me,” regrets Baaghi, a human rights activist with a high social and political status living in Lahore, Pakistan, who survived online threats and offline attacks.
4. Ruby – a model who lives in the Philippines – became the lover of a a man named Dr. Yu who worked at a well-known cosmetic clinic. The relationship soon fizzled out, but a year later Ruby received a tip from a reporter: a sex video involving her and Yu would be released soon. In 2008, three videos of Yu and Ruby depicting their time together at a hotel were published online. The videos went viral and each time they were reposted, Ruby felt she was being violated again and again.
5. “If I ever had faith in the authorities, I lost that faith,” expresses Louisa from Mexico who repeatedly reported the online threats she was receiving, but got no response from the prosecutor’s office.
6. A harasser made a fake Facebook profile of Serena, a 64-year-old single mother of three from Bosnia and Herzegovina, stealing and uploading all of her pictures. She was presented as “a stripper” and “professional whore”. She found out about it when a “friend request” from the fake profile was sent to her minor son. She eventually managed to get the fake profile removed by reporting it to Facebook as a stolen profile. Unfortunately, she believes, the story will stick around for some time.
7. Between 2009 and 2012, Antonia – founder and director of Colombian feminist organisation Mujeres Insumisas – and other employees of the organisation experienced a series of both online and offline threats. Alongside threats via mobile phones and electronic pamphlets, the NGO received 12 threatening emails from paramilitary groups in Colombia, admonishing them to stop working for women’s rights. Antonia had a heightened sense that she and her colleagues were under constant surveillance as they went about their lives, and that her privacy had been deeply compromised.
8. “If I reported it to the police they’d turn around and say, ‘tau sahi kiya na aap kay saath’ (you deserved what happened to you),” explains Bayhaya, a human rights defender from Pakistan, who did not report the threats that she and her colleagues received for fear that police might blame her.
Read all the case study summaries here
1) Follow us on Twitter
We are tweeting from @APC_News, @genderit, and @takebackthetech, as well as @dominemoslastic and @genderites for Spanish. We are using the hashtags #genderit, #takebackthetech, #genderites, #dominemoslastic, #CSW59, #Beijing20 and #SectionJ. During the first week of the CSW (from Monday 9 to Friday 13 of March), we are running a campaign on Twitter advocating for the reprioritisation of Section J of the Beijing Platform for Action, which focuses on media and new technology.
2) Contact our spokespeople
Jac sm Kee is a Malaysian feminist activist committed to transformative politics on the issues of violence against women, culture, “race”, identities, communications and information rights and sexualities. She is the APC Women’s Rights Programme manager. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jan Moolman is a feminist editor, writer, trainer and activist with extensive experience in the Southern African women’s and communication rights sector. She is based in Johannesburg, South Africa, and works for the APC Women’s Rights Programme as a senior project coordinator of the End violence: Women’s rights and safety online project. Email: email@example.com
3) Read the findings of our research:
A full list of background readings is available here
About the research
“From impunity to justice: Exploring corporate and legal remedies for technology-related violence against women” was a three-year research project exploring the adequacy and effectiveness of domestic legal remedies and corporate policies in relation to violence against women online, carried out as part of APC’s End violence: Women’s rights and safety online project. The research was conducted in partnership with seven organisations from diverse countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Mexico, Pakistan and the Philippines, with support from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS).
About the Association for Progressive Communications
The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) is an international network and non-profit organisation founded in 1990 that wants everyone to have access to a free and open internet to improve lives and create a more just world.
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