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creating-safe-online-spaces-for-women.pdf

Technology as a double-edged sword presents huge opportunities to correct the existing gender biases, but in the same breath has lifted and exacerbated offline biases. Concerns about technology-assisted gender-based violence have gained recognition over the last few years. As technology develops, so are the patterns and frequency of cyber harassment. Women and girls are the most targeted. These emerging online harassment threaten safe and secure spaces, reducing women’s ability to use the internet for empowerment or development. According to the Communications Authority, Internet subscriptions in Kenya stand at 39.6 million, among a population of 49 Million.

 

The popular social media and Internet messaging services are WhatsApp at 12M, Facebook at 7.8M, Youtube at 8M, Twitter at 1M, and Instagram at 1M. The blogging industry has also experienced a parallel growth in terms of the number of users and the diversity of content. Consequently, the number of women internet users and seasonal content creators has grown over time. However, the frequent online attacks and other new forms of cybercrimes have negatively affected women’s participation in these spaces. For example, a study by The Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK) and Article 19 East Africa, indicates that attacks on women journalists often drive them out of the social networking spaces. These attacks may negatively affect their career growth and also affect their income. And yet women journalists depend on online platforms for distribution of their news content and interaction with their audience. This policy brief identifies the underlying issues of cyberbullying by looking at the existing policy provisions and examines a select number of cases involving female celebrities. In each case, discussion points and recommendations are highlighted.

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