Kenya: AfDB to fight rising cyber violence against women in Africa

Nairobi, Kenya (PANA) - The African Development Bank (AfDB) launched a programme on Tuesday to stop the bullying of women and girls on the internet and other forms of gender-based violence during celebrations to mark the International Women’s Day in Nairobi.

AfDB Regional Director Gabriel Negatu said the plan to combat cyber-space violence against women would include the training of police and judicial workers, including prosecutors, judges and magistrates, on handling cases of cyber-based gender violence in Kenya, spreading in future to other countries.

“Cyber-based violence is a pandemic affecting women and girls. There is more severe form of violence taking place online than the physical violence, leading to death in more recent cases in Kenya, suicide and other forms of aggression against women,” Negatu said during an event to mark International Women’s Day.

Negatu said the increasing cases of cyber-based violence, which include defamation of women, online bullying, pornography, cyber cheating and online flirting, were a new form of emotional violence which cuts across races, income groups and calls for joint efforts to eradicate.

Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Information and Technology (ICT) Joe Mucheru said the government was concerned about the rapid rise in the number of cases involving cyber-violence against women.

In Kenya, it is estimated that mobile phone penetration stands at over 80%, and internet penetration at 64% (approximately reaching 29.1 million individuals), making Kenya the 21st  most connected population in the world.

Mucheru said Kenyans are some of the most active online populations on the continent with users increasing in number every day.

Mucheru said while the growth of the internet was commendable, it was also presenting new avenues and tools to inflict harm on women and girls.

“Gender Based Cyber Violence is emerging as a global problem with serious implications for societies and economies around the world,” he told the gathering of women in Nairobi, to launch the AfDB’s campaign against cyber-based gender violence.

“While the internet has opened up communication, cyber violence has become a plague which affects all women and girls regardless of age, race and social standing. As more women and girls go online to learn and work, they are encountering a form of violence that is as severe as physical violence,” Negatu said.

In the recent past, Kenya has witnessed an alarming rise in gender based attacks on cyber space platforms, including social media, some of which has resulted in death, health challenges and court cases.

Negatu said the anonymity that the internet offers has seen the propagation of a number of negative stereotypes that risk normalizing societal prejudices. The impact is psychological, mental and even financial, as it transforms the potential ICT has for empowerment into a weapon.
-0- PANA AO/MA 8March2016

08 march 2016 20:13:12

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