Posted 12 November 2009

In this edition is publishing a series of papers that provide a snapshot and baseline on the law and policy on

ICTs and violence against women (VAW) in 12 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

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*GENDER CENTRED: A thematic bulletin*

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*Violence against women and ICTs*

I. SMALL THOUGHTS AROUND…Violence against women and ICTs







Watch out for updates as the team follows the Internet

Governance Forum, from 15 to 18 November 2009. We will be blogging and

twittering about the event, bringing into focus the gendered dimensions

of internet governance issues. Follow our tweets under the hashtag:



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I. SMALL THOUGHTS AROUND…Violence against women and ICTs

by Erika Smith and Sonia Randhawa

One of the difficulties faced by women's rights advocates is the

reluctance of some participants to see the internet as a political

issue; unable to see that this refusal is in itself a political act.

The lack of adequate resources, information or analysis that explores

communications and technology policies that prevent, minimise or address

harm to women is a material challenge faced by advocates working on

violence against women.

Over the next two months, will be publishing a series of

papers that provide a snapshot and baseline on the law and policy on

ICTs and violence against women (VAW) in 12 countries across Africa,

Asia and Latin America. The papers are part of the Association for

Progressive Communications Women's Networking Support Programme (APC

WNSP) project that connects ICTs, VAW and Millennium Development Goal

Three (MDG3). This project is entitled, “Strengthening women’s strategic

use of ICTs to combat violence against women and girls”, and is

supported by the Dutch government’s MDG3 Fund to empower women and

promote gender equality.

This two and a half year project, initiated in January 2009, aims to

help women participants negotiate the fraught terrain of ICTs where

freedoms go hand in hand with growing privacy and security concerns.

Through a multifaceted approach, it aims to facilitate discussion and

partnership between women's rights advocates, representatives from the

ICT sector and policy makers towards solutions and policies that can

address the intersection between VAW and ICT.

Each of the participating countries illustrates different challenges and

opportunities for how ICTs impact on VAW, either in worsening the

problem, for example through the use of ICTs in trafficking, or in

providing a space where women can collaborate and network against

violence. In Argentina, around half the population has access to the

internet, a figure that hides large disparities. For example,

three-quarters of those over 50 don't know what a web browser is. In

Brazil, like in many countries participating in the project, mobile

phones are the most widely used gateway to new technologies. However,

legislation on communications and VAW is primarily focussed on

representations and portrayal of women through broadcasting laws.

Read the full article at:

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*Violence against Women and Information Communication Technologies:

Argentina Country Report. The kiss of life or death?*

Cristina Peralta examines the situation in Argentina, where few cases of

VAW using ICTs have been denounced. One study found that a small

percentage of young girls had been contacted by unknown people via chat

or Facebook before disappearing. Cell phones are also used for

controlling women's mobility and have become one of the first artifacts

to be destroyed by the partner during violent reactions, according to

survivor testimony. However, most of the organisations that work on VAW

issues primarily use ICTs for sharing information and networking. Some

of them participate in observatories, that include VAW in the media as

one of their concerns. This paper looks at these issues, and concludes

with recommendations for civil society to help address these problems

and formulate policy to deal with emerging challenges.

*Violence against Women and Information Communication Technologies:

Brazil Country Report*

In this paper, Ingrid Leao, Thais Lapa and Tamara Amoroso discuss

violence against women in the media, with advertisement and TV show

examples. It also looks at civil society expectations for the first

National Conference on Communications, to be held in December 2009. It

examines the use of social networks like Orkut and Twitter;

denouncements of VAW practices, such as cyber-bullying of teenage girls;

and how ICTs are also used for prevention and assistance of VAW survivors.

*Violence against Women and Information Communication Technologies:

Cambodia Country Report*

Chim Manavy examines how growth of the internet is pushing the limits of

a society's attitudes towards acceptable media images, through

exploitative use of images taken for private consumption. Technology is

moving across boundaries faster than the law can address. At the same

time, ICT use in general, much less awareness of how ICTs can be

strategically used to combat violence against women, is very limited in

Cambodia. While other women’s organisations and networks worldwide are

already using online resources in a myriad of ways to mobilise support

and share experiences, most Cambodian women are not familiar with the

use of ICT.

*Violence against Women and Information Communication Technologies:

Colombia Country Report: Overcoming patriarchy?*

Lucy Niño and Lida Nuñez look at how the Colombian government has paid

special attention to ICT policies, offering ICT literacy programmes and

ICT inclusion in marginalised areas, while at the same time ICTs are

used to promote prostitution and pornography produced in the country via

the internet and cellphones. Government has produced a campaign to

foster a “healthy use” of internet and to protect children. Social

movements and women´s movements have also used ICTs for anti-VAW

campaigning, supporting survivors and promoting images of women free

from stereotypes in the media. This paper examines these trends, and

urges action to end VAW in public, private and institutional spaces, in

the internal armed conflict and in the symbolic sphere.

*Violence against Women and Information Communication Technologies:

Congo Country Report*

In Congo, Sylvie Niombo explores the intersection of VAW and ICTs, where

mobile phone use appears to be the primary vehicle used to perpetrate

VAW using ICTs. SMS and phone calls are used by some men to harass women

and girls. Male monitoring of women’s use of mobile phones leads to

blurring of privacy issues and power relations between men and women are

reflected by who has the resources to buy cell phones. Mobile phones are

also used by young people to disseminate pictures of naked girls.

*Violence against Women and Information Communication Technologies:

Democratic Republic of Congo Country Report*

In the context of a country with one of the world's worst human rights

records, women and girls are the victims of sexual violence perpetrated

mostly by combatants from both sides. However, Sylvie Niombo finds in

this paper that the intersections between violence against women and

girls and ICTs in the DRC are not well established. The internet makes

it possible to share experiences and receive information to advance the

cause of women’s rights but can facilitate violence towards Congolese

women and girls. A lack of confidence in the legal system and the

strong presence of men in the judiciary make women unlikely to seek help

from the courts, but there is growing mobilisation of women and human

rights organisations in the fight to end violence against women (VAW) in

partnership with the United Nations and international organisations.

*Violence against Women and Information Communication Technologies:

Malaysia Country Report. Strengthening women's strategic use of ICTs to

combat violence against women and girls*

Jac SM Kee and Sonia Randhawa highlight forms of VAW that have received

recognition in Malaysia and provide the context of ICT development and

national policy objectives in this paper. It is not an exhaustive

assessment of the current state of VAW, but rather aims to surface some

of the interconnections between ICT issues and VAW and areas of

potential opportunities for advocacy, as well as looking at related

cyber laws and areas of regulation, particularly content regulation,

privacy and surveillance.

*Violence against women and ICTs in the Pacific Islands region: An overview*

Sonia Randhawa interviews FemLINK Pacific coordinator Sharon

Bhagwan-Rolls to get an overview of violence against women in the

Pacific Islands region and to look at how ICTs are contributing to

increasing the vulnerability of women and providing new forms of

harassment and harm, while at the same time grassroots initiatives such

as a mobile community radio station are helping to provide women with

tools for building self-confidence and information on what to do in

times of crisis.

*Violence against Women and Information Communication Technologies:

Pakistan Country Report*

Access to mobile technology is increasing rapidly in Pakistan, and women

are also gaining access, albeit at a slower rate than men. Kyla Pasha

examines how mobile technology is ripe for use in strategies of

empowerment, as long as access to technology is accompanied by training

and orientation.

*Violence against Women and Information Communication Technologies:

Philippines Country Report*

Jessica Umanos Sotos explores why specific law is needed in the

Philippines to prosecute perpetrators of violence against women through

the use of ICTs or cyberspace. She argues that national ICT institutions

and private companies’ policies cannot remain blind to the violations to

women’s rights perpetuated via ICTs in the context of the violation of

privacy rights through the illicit production and distribution of

private and intimate activities. The violation of privacy rights comes

in the form of sex-video scandals via telephony and internet. She also

documents how, although there are no available studies on how other

forms of violence such as stalking or sexual harassment and even direct

threats are figuring as VAW via mobile phones, these violations are

believed to be widespread.

*Violence against Women and Information Communication Technologies:

South Africa Country Report*

Two key debates are examined in the paper by Shereen Essof: censorship

versus freedom of expression and privacy versus surveillance. She looks

at the practices of VAW in a country with the world's highest reported

rate of femicide and where there is little understanding of the

strategic use of ICTs to support combating VAW as well as recognizing

new avenues for perpetrating violence against women.

*Violence against Women and Information Communication Technologies:

Uganda Country Report. Strengthening Women’s Strategic Use of ICT to

Combat Violence against Women and Girls.*

Aramanzan Madanda, Berna Ngolobe and Goretti Zavuga Amuriat look at how

ICTs have been used to help provide spaces for women and sexual

minorities. Sexual minorities have a presence on the internet to

articulate concerns of members and raise awareness. Women’s mobile phone

use is controlled by their husbands, who either give or withold

permission to use and dictate when and how. Some women have acquired two

SIM cards to forestall domestic violence. The authors view this as a

sign of women’s empowerment as telephones provide a means through which

to break male control by opening contacts to the outside world.

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At the 2000 UN Millennium Summit, 189 world leaders from rich and poor

countries alike committed to a set of eight Millenium Development Goals

(MDG) to end extreme poverty worldwide by 2015. Goal #3 aims to “promote

gender equality and empower women”.

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

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

Take Back The Tech! is a 16-day campaign initiated by APC WNSP in 2006.

From 25 November to 10 December every year, ICT users, communication

rights advocates, feminist and women's rights activists reclaim ICT to

end violence against women. Local and independent campaigns have sprung

up in numerous countries and spaces, sharing priorities, knowledge and

activism on this issue.

*UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women*

Appointed to look into the causes and consequences of violence against

women, the Special Rapporteur has the power to transmit appeals to

countries on alleged cases of VAW, undertake fact-finding missions to

countries and submit annual thematic reports to the UN General Assembly.

The most recent report was on the political economy of women's human


*Working to Halt Online Abuse*

WHOA is a volunteer organization founded in 1997 to fight online

harassment through education of the general public, education of law

enforcement personnel, and empowerment of victims. The mission of WHOA

is to educate the Internet community about online harassment, empower

victims of harassment, and formulate voluntary policies that systems

administrators can adopt in order to create harassment-free

environments. They formulate voluntary policies to encourage online

communities to adopt in order to create safe and welcoming environments

for all internet users. WHOA fully supports the right to free speech

both online and off, but asserts that free speech is not protected when

it involves threats to the emotional or physical safety of anyone.

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 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:

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*CopyLeft. 2009 APC Women's Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP)*

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

training and educational publications, and activities by peace,

environmental, human rights or development organisations. Please provide

an acknowledgement to APC WNSP.

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