Thursday, 12 November 2009

[creative-radio] Fw: GenderIT: Violence against women and ICTs


Let me know if you'd rather not get this - I'm sending to those I think would be interested, or like to know the resource exists.


(apologies for cross-posting)
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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: #genderigf2009.
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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 rights.

*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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