The ‘height and depth’ of advancing internet rights to fight GBV

Last Updated on: 21st April 2023, 10:14 am

Nairobi, KE, April 21, 2023: KICTANet in partnership with GIZ and the University of West Indies (UWI) is developing the fifth e-learning module of the Digital Enquirer Kit to curb gender-based violence (GBV).

Representatives of different organizations convened in Nairobi last week and broadly talked on the concepts of gender, sexual orientation, women, and sexual minorities, with nearly each who spoke re-echoing that all societies should be involved in advancing the internet to all.

The above demand was made at an annual meeting organized by Paradigm Initiative on Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum (DRIF23) in Nairobi.

While addressing several trainees across 48 countries on digital policy in Africa, Peace Oliver Amuge from Africa Regional Strategy Lead Association for Progressive Communications (ARSLAPC) reiterated that however much Africa is trying hard to implement reactive laws against online gender-based violence (OGBV), the biggest attacks like cyberbullying, body shaming is common against women.

Unlike other countries that have open internet for all, small media has greatly pushed for advocacy for internet usage for all regardless of sex and gender, she added.

Meaningful efforts to mitigate online violence seem lacking from platforms due to some reasons, such as a lack of geographical presence in most countries and an absence of direct contact with the governments, civil societies as well as other actors on the ground.

Principle 7 and 42 (7) of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, provides that States should take specific measures to address the needs of the marginalized (including women) groups in a manner that guarantees the enjoyment of their rights to freedom of expression and access to information on an equal basis with other.

Significantly, women who access the internet are constantly at risk of violence yet a bigger number have been subjected to some form of harassment while States continue to have gaps in their legal framework to protect women against digital violence.

Women in Uganda have gone through a range of challenges and the perpetrators are believed to be men, domestic violence and sexual assault remain prevalent for their expression online.

In her argument, Amuge said even as women have rights which should not be violated, there is, however, no explicit regulation against this hence leaving them with no protection.

ASP Francis Ogweng, the Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of CCTV Operations, Uganda Police said gender equality befits both men and women equally at 50:50.

Also, a gender equality advocate, Ogweng attributed this fact to work productivity and development between both genders that represent full humanity.

According to a study done by World Health Organization and published in 2021 regarding violence against women and girls, almost 1 in 3 women across the World have experienced one of this violence physically, sexually, emotionally and psychologically.

In Uganda, according to UN Women Global Database, 50 per cent of women aged between 15-49 have or will experience IPV or SGBV with the leading being lifetime physical or sexual intimate partner violence.

ASP Ogweng, therefore, said respect for both genders has a huge benefit to everyone and called upon men to respect women and vice-versa, but encouraged that there should be a male involvement strategy plan.

The Uganda National Gender Policy reveals that outcomes and impact of interventions to address gender inequality are a shared responsibility of all development actors and agents.

This policy guides that, there is an increase in knowledge and understanding of human rights among women and men so that they can identify violations, demand, access, seek redress and enjoy their rights.

In the 2022 Police Annual Crime Report, an 18 per cent increase (231,653 cases) in the number of crimes was reported from 196,081 cases reported in 2021. Of these figures, domestic violence stood at 17,698 (in 2022) with a difference of 165 in 2021.

The report further indicates that a total of 18,549 people were victims of domestic violence, of whom 3,728 were male adults, and 13,052 were female adults. 819 were male juveniles while 950 were female juveniles.

Locally, in Lango sub-region, 353 cases were recorded in Lira and 315 in Amolatar districts.

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