The internet has become an unsafe cyber space for women who have in recent years used the social media as a platform to voice their issues.
It is rather unfortunate that the cyber space which was termed ‘safe’ at the beginning of its creation, is now used to harass, blackmailed or portrayed women as sexual objects for financial gains. Freedom of expression online is speedily turning into a luxury. My colleagues and I, (Pedmia Shatu and Gnoukapasi Martial) carried out a mobile campaign to educate people on the ills of online violence against women and the proper use of the internet.
The Internet should not only be used for making people’s lives hateful but to promote each other. The internet is an open book for all to grab his or her own share of the free ride. There are all types of opportunities on the internet, why spend your time bringing someone down rather than building yourself. #internetfreedomfestival2018.
Organizations including the Global Fund for Women is working for a world of Zero Violence. Women and girls deserve to live in a world where they are free from physical violence—domestic abuse, sexual assault and rape as a weapon of war—as well as violence online. We recognize that online violence is a symptom of deep-seated gender inequality, and just one more way that women and girls are denied their human rights. That’s why they support women’s groups engaged in tackling online violence – from reporting online harassment cases to providing counselling and training.
Online campaigns against women human rights defenders and organisations aim to damage their credibility as advocates, to diminish or obliterate the power of their voices, and to restrict the already limited public space in which women’s activists can mobilise and make a difference.
The impact can be profound. The anxiety and fear suffered by the victims are compounded by a very real possibility of physical harm, as well as damage to livelihoods generated by the dissemination of false and sexually explicit images or other malicious lies.
In a survey of eight countries in 2017, Amnesty International found at least 41% of women who had been abused online feared for their physical safety, and 24% feared for their family’s safety, since online mobs who attack women often issue detailed and graphic threats against their children. Moreover, these attacks are extremely frequent and widespread. In 2014, the EU Fundamental Rights Agency found nearly a quarter of women surveyed had experienced online harassment.
The damage to victims’ right to privacy, to freedom of expression, and to full participation in economic, social, cultural and political affairs is evident. These forms of intimidation and violence may also cripple the work of women’s networks, which often use online platforms as their key form of communication and mobilization. These effects are compounded by the near-total impunity enjoyed by perpetrators.
Maikem Emmanuela Manzie