Women leaders and activists in politics are subject to gender-based violence and abuse whether psychological, physical or sexual. The same abuse that Women in Politics face offline, mirrors what happens to the online space. Violence against women in their community infringes their enjoyment of human rights. According to a report conducted by Women at Web Tanzania powered by Media Convergency titled “An Overview of Online Gender Based Violence to Women in Politics” show among 312 respondents, 79% of Women in Politics have experienced abuse and harassment online.
The report was in collaboration with Victory Attorneys for the purpose of understanding the legal framework of the state of online gender-based violence in general, Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF) and Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA) came on board in regards to context, approach and understanding of gender based-violence (GBV) and Omuka Hub (OH), an innovation Hub which was responsible for coordinating all key discussions and feedback sessions with women in politics and specifically the Members of Parliament.
Why Women in Politics
It’s because it’s the one group of women that is left behind and rarely spoken for and there is rare number of their active usage online, the aim is raising awareness of online spaces, its security, obstacles, psycho-mental health and how to overcome online challenges thus reducing the Gender Digital-divide. According to the report conducted by Women at Web Tanzania “An Overview of Online Gender Based Violence to Women in Politics” The findings show that out of 110 respondents, 93% of women in politics agreed that Digital Illiteracy is the challenging issue when asked who is to blame for the ineffectiveness in dealing with OGBV cases.
Political Scientist and Analyst Ms. Aikande Kwayu says “Online Gender-based violence is rampant online, the violence that happens online is a result of the abuse that normally happens to women in everyday life because of their gender. A woman leader in politics faces more abuse and harassment in the society for the majority in the community are yet ready to embrace a woman in leadership positions. I advise Women in Politics to understand that Social Media presence is very important – the online platform provides opportunities that any Politician needs to take advantage of, it’s a space that you can voice your thoughts, ideas, showcase your work as well as call out the injustices.”
Forms of Online Gender Based Violence
According to a report conducted by Women at Web Tanzania powered by Media Convergency, titled “An Overview of Online Gender Based Violence to Women in Politics” highlights on different form of Online Gender Based Violence and the findings show amongst 312 respondents, 77% of Women in Politics incur Cyberstalking compared to other forms of violence. Here are the mentioned forms of violence according to the report.
One, Infringement of privacy is unlawful or illegal interference of another person’s life through accessing personal data or information which is meant to be private, or disturbing another person’s private life by any means which is not consensual.
Two, Surveillance and monitoring, this is done through monitoring and tracking of online and offline activities, usage of spyware and keyboard loggers without a user’s consent and using GPS and other geolocator software to track a woman’s movement without her consent
Three, tarnishing reputation/ credibility, a person’s reputation can be tarnished or damaged through several actions like creating and sharing false personal data such as online accounts, advertisements and social media accounts with intention of injuring user’s reputation or credibility, creating and manipulating fake photos and videos, disseminating private information for the purpose of damaging someone’s reputation
Four, Online harassment Online harassment can be done through several ways including cyber-bullying or repeated harassment through unwanted messages, attention or contacts, direct threats of violence including threats of sexual or physical violence, abusive comments, unsolicited sending/receiving of sexually explicit materials.
Janet Rithe ACT Wazalendo, Party National Coordinator says “Online Gender-based violence is being undermined a lot in the society especially for us Women leaders in Politics. It is time we acknowledge that this thing is serious. Online harassment really destroys confidence in a woman and leads to doubting and self-censoring oneself in expressing your views and engaging in interesting discussions. It is important for women to know that OGBV is there and it’s not going anywhere; whomever is abusing or harassing you it’s because they have some hidden agenda, they have a limited way of thinking and it has nothing to do with you as a woman. I used to be one of the victims and used to shy away from social media, but now am used to it and I can freely interact without giving a second thought to the perpetrators.”
We believe, in order to reach more women of different specializations efforts in raising awareness on digital literacy and online gender-based violence should be given often whether it is through campaigns offline and online or through hosting events that touch upon on digital security and digital literacy.