From impunity to justice: Domestic legal remedies for cases of technology-related violence against women

Publication date: 
March 2015
Author: 
Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau, Inc. for the "End violence: Women´s rights and safety online" project
Publisher: 
Association for Progressive Communications

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The present research seeks to examine the availability and effectiveness of existing domestic legal remedies for survivors of technology-related VAW to access justice and to prevent such violence from occurring. Domestic legal remedies are analysed in the context of women’s access to justice, while simultaneously noting that the existence and enforcement of laws protecting women and the availability of legal counsel during the process of adjudication are not enough to measure women’s access to justice. The research therefore adopts a framework of access to justice that goes beyond simply legal measures, and views VAW as a product of a hierarchical system of oppression. This framework explores the intersectional nature of discrimination and remains mindful of the entire continuum of violence experienced by women. At the same time, the framework is invested with an understanding of the continuum of agency and empowerment that women individually and collectively exercise.

The research was carried out between April 2013 and June 2014 by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) as part of a multi-country project entitled “Ending violence: Women’s rights and safety online”. The research was conducted in collaboration with partners located in seven countries: OneWorldSEE in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colnodo in Colombia, Si Jeunesse Savait in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the International Association of Women in Radio and Television and KICTANet in Kenya, an APC project associate in Mexico, Bytes for All in Pakistan, and the Foundation for Media Alternatives in the Philippines.

Research objectives and methods: The overarching goals of the research were 1) to gather evidence to increase understanding of the dynamics of technology-related VAW, and of what works and what doesn’t in the fight against these forms of violence; 2) develop recommendations for effective evidence-based legal, civic and community-based response strategies that can be readily adopted by key stakeholders (primarily women, women’s rights advocates, public officials, legal professionals and corporate agents) to fight technology-related VAW.

The research explored technology-related VAW at two levels. The first level comprises the mapping of existing domestic legal remedies and the second consists of case studies that highlight women’s experiences of seeking available remedies across varying contexts, including the barriers they faced. The emphasis was on women’s voices and looking at how women exercise and negotiate agency in different situations and contexts.There were a total of 24 case studies conducted across seven countries.

Limitations of the research: In mapping domestic legal remedies, the research provided a review of constitutions, general penal codes, gender equality laws, and specific national laws on VAW and ICT – all of which provided, in some measure, remedy in cases of technology-related VAW. However, the study was limited in that all the laws were reviewed in English, despite the fact that some countries have either French or Spanish as their official languages. The research worked under the assumption that the available English translations reflected the laws in their original languages.

Secondly, while one of the main objectives of the research was to highlight women’s views and voices, some of the interview respondents were not survivors themselves. The voices of women were mediated by service providers, social workers or advocates.

Table of contents

Section I: Introduction……………………………5
1.Background to the research……………………………5
1.1 Research objectives……………………………6
1.2 Research methods……………………………7

Section II: Analysis of findings……………………………10
1.The phenomenon of technology-related VAW……………………………10
1.1 Violence against women: A continuum ……………………………11
1.2 The harms of technology-related VAW……………………………13

2.Adequacy and effectiveness……………………………17
2.1 Protection under gender equality laws……………………………17

3.Agency, participation and women’s power……………………………27
3.1 Women taking ownership of their situation……………………………27
3.2 Women as active seekers of justice ……………………………28

4.Conclusions and recommendations……………………………32

This research is part of the APC “End violence: Women´s rights and online safety” project funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS) and is based on a strong alliance with partners in seven countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Mexico, Pakistan and the Philippines.

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