As part of the regional advocacy, Media Convergency, ABC, and AMWIK have collaborated and produced a comic strip about OVAW for women in East Africa. The comic strip launch took place on the 15th of December 2022. The aim for the comic strip is to break down what online violence against women, its characteristics, impact on the victims and how to get help and seek support, through an illustrated story.
The comic strip tells a story about an actress named Samira who one day wakes up and finds her phone buzzing with notifications, only for her to take a look at it and find body shaming comments from a picture of hers that was posted online. The body shaming comments escalates and the media takes part in it too, this leads to Samira getting depressed. The story ends with Samira going to court to open a case against the media and is escorted by her friends.
During the launch, a conversation was held with policy makers, activists and journalists from three counties (Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda) The following where the thematic areas covered by the panelist.
- Former Member of Parliament and Expert on Public Policy and Public Administration Ms. Zubbeda Sakuru shared her expertise and insights in addressing Online Violence against women from a political view.
- Gender Editor from the News Times Ms. Glory Iribagiza, highlights on how the media set precedent in fostering conversations on OVAW and covering stories as such with intent to drive action within our societies
- Flora Ndaba shared her experience as an activist in addressing OVAW cases through campaigns, the challenges that transpire in between and the success stories
Highlights of the Comic Strip after the launch
- Samira represents thousands of women who turn to social media for expression only to be trolled
- Online Violence can lead to general fear for one’s own safety, as a consequence of organized harassment and the fast and uncontrollable distribution of harmful content, as well as isolation.
- Setting institutions that understand digital crimes and personnel, who will be competent to aid in ensuring safety of the digital space and also solving cases of online violation
- Improve the reporting mechanisms & response times of websites & platforms, so that incidents of online violence can be more effectively addressed & perpetrators can be held accountable.
- People should understand the results of online violence against women
- Increase awareness & education about the issue, so that women are better equipped to protect themselves & know how to report incidents of online violence when they occur.
- Gender-based violence (GBV) is a serious violation of human rights and a life-threatening health and protection issue
- Gender-Based violence refers to harmful acts directed at an individual based on their gender. It is rooted in gender inequality, the abuse of power and harmful norms.
- We need to boost the police and justice system to ensure that perpetrators are brought to book. This will send a clear message to everyone out there.
- Implementation of the Cyber Crime Act
- Social media platforms currently offer a variety, of settings to address online abuse but these tools are not always easy to find or use.
It was very interesting so see how similar Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya is when it comes to challenges that women face in the society weather online or offline. This regional engagement gave an affirmation that to be able to tackle the obstacles around online violence of women, it is important we learn from one another, see that works, what does not as well as approaches of how to engage the decision makers and key stakeholders. Media Convergency is looking forward to more regional collaboration the year 2023 and we hope to foster more conversation and collaborations with policymakers on policy implementation by compare existing laws, what is working, how to utilize them to protect women aspirants’ online interaction and advocate for a way forward.