Freedom of Expression & Information

Posted 25 July 2006

Events that accompanied the production of this edition demonstrated, more than ever, that space to freely communicate, access information, and engage in democratic processes is narrowing in some countries. In the context of these events, two interviewees from Iran and Egypt had to cancel the interviews because of emergencies in their countries. This edition not only reflects on gender and freedom of expression and information, but also calls for a renewed commitment to these fundamental rights.

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GENDER CENTRED: A thematic bulletin

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I. Small Thoughts Around...Freedom of Expression & Information

II. New Articles:

*Community radios and feminist voices against repression in Brazil

*Tools for Communication Rights in Malaysia

*Culture, local traditions, and taboo - Challenges to the full expression of women's voices

*A 'Women's Commons'? An Exploratory Dialogue on the Potential of the Knowledge Commons for Women

*Will women really benefit from the digital revolution?

III. Featured Resources:

*Access Denied: The Impact of Internet Filtering Software on the Lesbian and Gay [version 2.0.]

* The Media Freedom Internet Cookbook

* Gender Harassment on the Internet

IV. Call for Contributors

V. New Features

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Freedom of Expression & Information

World Press Freedom Day was celebrated on 3rd of May. Yet this year

alone, 21 individuals all over the world have been killed because of

their work as journalists, and many more are missing (Committee to

Project Journalists). As new digital communications technologies enable

new opportunities for the creation, expression and dissemination of news

and perspectives, these spaces are not invincible from the policing of

State and other equally impactful, but often submerged, socio-political

norms. explores the gender dimension of freedoms of the

freedoms of expression and information.

This edition has been difficult in coming. We arranged for an interview

between guest writer and ICTs advocate, Katrin Verclas, with Manal

Hassan, a prominent communications rights activist based in Egypt. This

was also aimed to be in support of Alaa Abdel Fatah, her partner and

also active blogger on freedom of speech, who was detained together with

more than 300 activists during a peaceful protest on 7th May 2006. They

were arrested under the Egyptian Emergency Laws allows for 15 days

detention without trial that can be indefinitely renewed. More than a

month later, and after a third renewal of the 15 days detention, Alaa is

freed and continues to blog with Manal in follow-up of the other

activists still in detention [].

On 12 June 2006, several thousand participants in a peaceful women's

rights protest who demanded changes to family laws and legal

discrimination against women in Tehran faced extreme violence. A large

number of police and security forces arrived at the scene, and ended the

protest by attacking the crowd with batons, and pepper gas. According to

the spokesperson for Ministry of Justice , 70 persons were arrested

during the course of this protest. However, this does not include the

arrests that happened prior to the protest, where women's rights

activists, student activists and also bloggers were summoned to court

and interrogated. Since then, others have been summoned for

interrogation by phone or in writing, including Sussan T, an active

women's rights and ICTs advocate from Iran. We contacted Sussan to help

render visible the situation that women rights activists are currently

facing in Iran, and to issue a call for support.

Understandably, at such critical moments, finding time and resources to

write or engage in interviews is difficult. Prioritising the urgency of

these two events, decided to postpone the edition for a

month while attempting to continue our contact with both Manal and

Sussan. It has been a troubled month of silence.

These two events demonstrate louder than ever that the spaces for us to

freely speak our minds, opine our thoughts, access information and

engage in democratic processes is narrowing. As such, this edition is

also a call for the renewal of commitment towards these fundamental


For more information about the situation in Iran, please visit:


For the status of the internet in Iran, see: “Access is denied: a report

on the status of the internet in Iran”


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Community radios and feminist voices against repression in Brazil

The repression against community radios in Brazil reaches important

social projects and initiatives such as Novo Ar - a community

association and radio station led by Graça Rocha. In this interview to

GenderIT, Graça provides details about the repression that Brazilian

community radios experience and highlights the critical role that women

play in the radio and in the community: "women resist better. Here in

Novo Ar, women are the majority – and although we feel exhausted

sometimes, we never give up, we keep struggling".

Tools for Communication Rights in Malaysia

Jac sm Kee speaks with one of the most vocal media and communication

rights advocate in Malaysia, Sonia Randhawa, through an online messenger

platform about motivations, communication technologies, rights,

democracy, tactics and gender. Sonia currently sits as the Executive

Director of the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ). Apart from

conducting regular trainings on independent media and communications

strategies, CIJ is also developing community radio programmes that

innovatively combine “old” and “new” technologies – radio and the

internet – through Radiq Radio.

Culture, local traditions, and taboo - Challenges to the full

expression of women’s voices

Popular communicators that work in community radio-telecentres in

different states of Brazil talk about their achievements and

apprehensions concerning the complete freedom to express themselves. As

members of the Cyberela Network (Red Cyberela) developed by the feminist

organisation Cemina, the communicators explain the reasons behind their

self-censorship and how they gradually overcome taboos and prejudices

through their work with microphones and screens.

A Women's 'Commons'? An Exploratory Dialogue on the Potential of the

Knowledge Commons for Women

The idea of the 'commons' has been contestedly understood as being both

a principle of understanding content and creative products, and a

community that supports the sharing of information and creative content.

It is also directly linked with subverting current Intellectual Property

Rights paradigms, where ownership and control of information, knowledge,

and content has been commodified. So what exactly is so 'new' about the

'commons'? Looking at the four paradigms where ideas about the 'commons'

are supposed to operate, perhaps it is possible to see if developments

towards a Knowledge Commons resonates with feminist tactics/agendas/isms.

Will women really benefit from the digital revolution?

The book “The Gender Digital Divide in Francophone Africa, a Harsh

Reality” written by Marie-Helene Mottin-Sylla has just been translated

into English by APC, the Association for Progressive Communications. On

this occasion, Sylvie Niombo, Deputy Coordinator of APC’s Africa-Women

Programme, interviewed Marie-Helene on the content of the book.

Visit the collection of a wide variety of other resources and articles

related to this issue on the communication rights section:

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Access Denied: The Impact of Internet Filtering Software on the Lesbian

and Gay [version 2.0.]

A survey of how internet filtering software, and ratings systems affect

the lesbian and gay community. "Access Denied" contains sections

analysing the legal, political and social implications of enforced

invisibility on the web. It also includes testimonials from lesbian,

gay, bisexual and transgender persons, who are those most directly

affected by the lack of access to important information via the web or

internet. The report offers recommendations for industry leaders on how

to make the internet both friendly and fair.

The Media Freedom Internet Cookbook

The Media Freedom Internet Cookbook offers recommendations and best

practices, the results from the 2004 Amsterdam Internet Conference of

the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media. Among others, it looks

at "The Role of Filtering Software in Internet Content Regulation", and

documenting the number of cases how the filters may 'accidentally'

censor websites, and educational materials regarding AIDS, drug abuse

prevention, sexual and reproductive rights, or teenage pregnancy.

Gender Harassment on the Internet

The paper examines the nature and types of gender harassment occurring

on the net, including possible causes of this online offense. It also

explores whether online gender harassment rises to the level of an

actionable claim, and will examine some of the inherent problems in

pursuing such claims, as well as pursuing criminal charges against


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IV. CALL FOR CONTRIBUTORS is still calling for contributors :)

If you have something exciting to share, or if we can help communicate

your event, campaign, insights and reflections to a wider audience,

please send us an email (jac AT apcwomen DOT org).

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CopyLeft. 2006 APC Women's Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP)

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