Cyber Violence against Women; a threat to women’s participation online

As Uganda joins the rest of the world to commemorate international women’s day, the Unwanted witness Uganda and women of Uganda Network are concerned about the increasing cyber violence and its harmful effects on women, which vice is likely to scare off women’s participation online.

Currently the number of women accessing and utilizing ICT are few compared to their male counterparts mainly because of the illiteracy levels. But even this limited number is being threatened by the cyber violations muted on women and girls and yet there is no regulation to check the vice.

The current online violations against women include cyber stalking, sexual harassment and revenge pornography. The perpetrators of online revenge pornography, which is the current form of online invasion on women’s privacy are charged under the anti pornography act. This legislation however charges both the perpetrator and the victim with no room for deterrence.

An appropriate ICT policy should be able to promote gender quality by putting in place measures that will avoid abuse and enable women attain skills to utilize ICT.

“The Uganda digital divide is a gender divide as women continue to be confronted by a multi-sectoral set of barriers to accessing ICT. Unfortunately institutions like police and courts that are mandated to protect women and girls are less knowledgeable about the ongoing ICT violations and therefore perpetrators continue to walk scot-free.” says, Jeff Wokulira Ssebaggala, the Unwanted Witness Chief Executive Officer.

The Unwanted Witness in partnership with a number of organisations including Women of Uganda Network and individual activists take the advantage of ICT through discussion, analyze the progress of women and girls in Uganda, speak out challenges that they continue to face for purposes of creating awareness and causing a debate for change.

One of the activities organised to mark this year’s international women’s day was a twitter chat where WOUGNET released a report titled “cyber infrastructure: a woman issue, too!”

“ICT has presented many opportunities and dangers for women in Uganda and it is therefore important for government to start thinking about what cyber security and internet freedom mean for Ugandans people and especially the women.” Says, Goretti Amuriat, program manager gender and ICT, WOUGNET.

 We therefore call upon government through ICT regulatory agencies to embark on a campaign that would sensitize law enforcement agencies on cyber laws in order to prosecute perpetrators of violence against women online.