(apologies for cross-posting)

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*GENDER CENTRED: A GenderIT.org thematic bulletin*

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*Cybercrime legislations and gender*

I. SMALL THOUGHTS AROUND…Cybercrime legislations and gender






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I. SMALL THOUGHTS AROUND…Cybercrime legislations and gender

by Flavia Fascendini

This edition of GenderIT.org examines the issue of cybercrime legislation through a gendered perspective and its implication on women, in collaboration with the ICT Policy Monitor Latinamerica and the Caribbean team of the Association for Progressive Communications. The focus of this edition was catalysed by issues and questions raised by our readers on the increasing pervasiveness of cybercrime legislations in different regions, and their potential impact on women's communication rights.

As always, we began to investigate the issue with many questions: What is meant by “cybercrime”? In what kinds of spaces would cybercrimes be considered as being committed? How do they differentiate and affect ideas of the public and the private? How can this affect women as users and developers of the internet, e-mail, cell phones and other information and communication technologies (ICT)? Can cybercrime restrict the exercise of individual rights to privacy, freedom of expression and civil liberties? Can the rhetoric of fighting cybercrimes in effect be used to restrict the exercise of women’s communication rights? How can the issue of cybercrimes be analysed from a feminist perspective? Is this issue currently part of the women's movement's agenda? How the criminalisation of online sexual expression and practices as well as the sex trade affect the sexual rights of women?

In this edition of GenderIT.org, our team of writers together with the APC Policy Programme in Latin America Minitor team present the many facets of this challenging policy area. Their different approaches and stances clearly demonstrate the difficulty of drawing a clear line between protection of women's rights from violation and empowering their status as users and definers of ICT and the information society. The articles portray the current cybercrime landscape, arising issues and their gendered dimensions in different regions of the world – including India, Burkina Faso, USA, Chile, Brazil, Venezuela and Bolivia. We invite your reflections on this subject that remains contentious and sometimes directly absent.

Read the full version of this editorial in the Feminist Talk section:


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*Finding a difficult balance*

*Human rights, law enforcement and cyber violence against women*

GenderIT writer Mavic Cabrera-Balleza probed on new analytical frameworks of violence against women taking into account cyber violence and the challenges and dilemmas women activists confront as they struggle to address this relatively new dimension of gender injustice. She spoke with two women activists who are at the forefront of advocacy on violence against women at the national and international levels - Lesley Ann Foster, founder and Executive Director of Masimanye Women’s Support Network in South Africa and Charlotte Bunch, founder and Executive Director of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University in New Jersey, USA.


*Cybercrime laws are not enough, there is also a need for education*

The different forms of online violence against women should be covered by criminal legislation to provide adequate protection and redress. However, laws are not enough. There is also a need for education, prevention, the development of defence mechanisms and a legal system that is capable of addressing these issues without subjecting the victims to further victimisation. Carlos Gregorio, a researcher at the Research Institute for Justice (Instituto de Investigación para la Justicia) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, shares his views on a number of issues related to cybercrime.


*Unequal protection, cyber crime and the internet in India*

In assessing cyber crime legislation, policy makers and gender and development advocates must carefully consider the implications for privacy and information security. On the one hand, ICT have created opportunities to combat inequality through movements and communities against issues that were once deemed 'private', such as domestic violence and sex trafficking. On the other hand, ICT exacerbate existing structures of inequality by enabling cyber criminals to access and misuse private information to target vulnerable groups. As ICT blur the lines between personal and public, the nature of the internet and cyber crime - including how they affect human rights and social justice - must be questioned. Weiting Xu casts a gendered lens on cybercrime laws in India.


*Dealing with fraud and internet "love": women and cybercrime in Burkina Faso*

Fraud, data piracy, seeking partners on the internet: Ramata Soré discovers that women in Burkina Faso are as much victims as perpetrators. From Ouagadougou to Banfora via Bobo-Dioulasso, and from Ouahigouya to Dori, all towns with an internet connection are affected by this phenomenon. However, the fight against this crime is in the tentative stages, if not altogether non-existent. Legislation is still under development.


Visit the collection of a wide variety of other articles and resources related to this issue in the violence against women section: http://www.genderit.org/en/index.shtml?apc=i90501-e--1

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*Take Back The Tech: Reclaiming ICT to end violence against women*

Take Back The Tech! is a yearly 16-day campaign that aims to engage greater participation by all civil society, especially grrls and women ICT-users, to think about the issue of violence against women and ICT in diverse contexts and realities. By calling for all users to reclaim control over technology, the campaign is asking for the right to define, access, use and shape ICTs for its potential to transform power relations, towards a vision and reality of equality.


*Online Harassment/Cyberstalking Statistics*

Cyberstalking statistics have been collected by Working to Halt Online Abuse (WHOA) - a US-based online safety organisation - over the period of eight years, from 2000 till 2007. Data is gathered from survivors through the demographic questionnaire published on the WHOA web site at haltabuse.org . The released data are based on a total of 2,285 completed questionnaires. One interesting finding reveals that although women are still the primary victims, with men as the primary harassers, male victims and female harassers have significantly increased over the years.


*CyberStalked: Our Story*

The story of Cynthia Armistead, the founder of the site Cyberstalked (www.cyberstalked.org). The site originally began as a place to refute the defamation spread about Cynthia and her family across the internet. In this story, Cynthia shares the experiences of her and her daughter as targets of online harassment and stalking over period of several years.


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Cybercrime (or e-crime) refers to criminal offences which are committed with the aid of ICTs (e.g. internet, mobile phone). Cybercrime laws may encompass broad range of issues, including such activities as hacking, intellectual property violations, dissemination of 'harmful' content such as child pornography or racist and xenophobic materials. Some experts divide cybercrime into three major categories, those committed against persons (e.g. online harrasment or pornography distribution over internet), cybercrimes against property (e.g. illegal sharing of copyrighted movies and music in peer to peers networks or software piracy), and cybercrimes against government (e.g. cyber terrorism). In many countries, cybercrime bills focus merely on economic and state security threads, and fail to recognise cybercrimes against persons, including serious forms of crimes against women, such as cyberstalking or cyber harassment.

At the international level, cybercrime is addressed in the Convention on Cybercrime that attempts to harmonise national laws, improve investigative techniques and increase cooperation among nations. Human rights advocates criticize the failure of this treaty to protect privacy, freedom of expression and civil liberties.

To understand unfamiliar ICT or gender terms visit the Jargon section:


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*EPIC:Electronic Privacy Frontier*

A public interest research center established in Washington in 1994. EPIC focus on emerging civil liberties issues, such as protection of privacy or freedom of expression in the information age. EPIC activities involve policy research, public education, conferences, litigation, publications, and advocacy. Among other, EPIC runs 'Domestic Violence and Privacy' project aimed to help practitioners with privacy issues their clients may face. As the part of this project, EPIC along with domestic violence advocates recommended to include strong privacy protections of online court records, which may put in risk domestic violence survivors, into the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the first federal legislation specifically addressing domestic abuse in USA. In their Gender and Electronic Privacy study, EPIC also examimes privacy issues from gender perspective.

EPIC website: http://epic.org/

Gender and Electronic Privacy: http://epic.org/privacy/gender/

Domestic Violence and Privacy Project: http://epic.org/privacy/dv/

To find out more about key stakeholders in the field of ICTs, visit the Who's Who in Policy section:


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*Gender Centred Archive*

You can now check all editions of GenderIT.org thematic bulletin, published since 2006, in Gender Centred Archive:


*Sign up for Gender Centred thematic bulletin*

You can sign up for Gender Centred thematic e-bulletin focused on topical gender and ICT policy themes and issued in average four times per year: http://www.genderit.org/archive/?q=en/subscribe-bulletin

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*CopyLeft. 2008 APC Women's Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP)*

Permission is granted to use this document for personal use, for

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