Feminist reflection on internet policies

Changing the way you see ICT

Argentina: Violence against Women and Information Communication Technologies

Cristina Peralta
Cristina Peralta on 5 November, 2009
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In 2008, interneti was used in Argentina by almost 50% of the population, 57% men, 43% women with 4 million connecting from cybercafes. Seventy-five percent of people over 50 don´t know what a web browseri is.

Violence against women (VAW) in Argentina is expressed in several different ways:

Femicide: An average of 16 women per month were killed by their spouses, partners or boyfriends in 2008 (192 in the year)

Trafficking of women: This crime affects around 400,000 women, many of them brought into the country from neighbouring countries, particularly Paraguay

Patriarchal violence: VAW is embedded in the culture, affecting interpretation of law and women's ability to exercise their rights. This violence is also expressed as symbolic violence in the media or in everyday societal rules that control women´s lives.

VAW and ICTs: Few cases of VAW using ICTs have been denounced in the country. 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 movement and it has become one of the first artifacts to be destroyed by the partner during violent reactions, according to survivor testimony.

Legislation on VAW: A new law on VAW was passed this year, that includes symbolic violencei. A law against trafficking of women was passed last year, but it was very controversial and not accepted by the women´s movement because it did not included protection of adult women trapped in forced prostitution.

Legislation on ICTs: A digital agenda is being discussed in the country, but it has been hard to include a gender perspective in it. In the bill of the new law on communication services, equal portrayal of women and men has been included, plus VAW in media issues. Argentina has signed the Budapest Cybercrime Agreement, freedom of expressioni in the internet is protected by law, and crimes related to informatics have been included in the Penal Code. The main crimes committed using ICTs in the country are swindle, fraud, privacyi violations and infant pornographyi.

Women´s movement and ICTs: Most of the organisations that work on VAW issues use ICTs for sharing information and networkingi. Some of them participate in observatories, that include VAW in the media as one of their issues. Several organisations have worked together to lobbyi authorities or Congress members on specific issues.

Main recommendations for action:

There is need to work with women and the women´s movement to use ICT strategically to stop VAW. Women should exert their right to communicate in the internet and using other ICT devices, like cell phones.

A national database for VAW cases and for trafficking cases should be created.

There should be more collaboration between governmenti units and NGOs working on VAW and trafficking of women, sharing information and data to stop this crime.

Create awareness on VAW and ICT issues.

Participate in the conference of ICT Governancei and in the discussion of the Digital Agenda.

Emphasise digital literacy of women to combat VAW and create educational process to use ICTs with a gender perspective.