Feminist reflection on internet policies

Changing the way you see ICT

Privacy and violence against women

(apologies for cross-posting)
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*GENDER CENTRED: A GenderIT.org thematic bulletin*
APC WNSP – GenderIT.org, 3 August 2010
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*Privacy and violence against women*

I. THOUGHTS AROUND…Claiming communication rights
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A new edition examines how violence against women (VAW) affects our privacy rights in the digital age. VAW survivors often experience intrusions into their privacy from their partners, spouses or the State. Moreover, privacy does not always work to women' s advantage. Family-centred approaches to privacy impose modesty and domestic isolation on women and make it hard to enforce domestic violence as a crime. So how have ICTs shifted where we see the line between what is private, and what is public? How much privacy are women comfortable to give up in order to protect themselves from abusive behaviour online? Are national laws ready to deal with the situation when women are not able to leave a violent relationship because their partner has intimate photographs or video clips of them? These are some of the questions GenderIT.org's writers examine in this edition.

With this edition we also bring you a new look GenderIT.org. The new format was motivated by our efforts to engage more with GenderIT.org readers and to provide more space for networking and collaboration. We hope you like it! Please send your comments to: genderit@apcwomen.org

Flavia, Katerina and Sonia from the GenderIT.org team

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I. THOUGHTS AROUND…Claiming communication rights
by Cai Yiping, the Executive Director of Isis International (Isis)

“Don't upload your photographs or videos on the pages of social networks, like Facebook or MySpace, nor personal information like emaili account or telephone numbers.” IT techies advise.

“I have changed my gender from female to male on skype to avoid some annoying and harassing calls and chats sometimes even popping up in the middle of night or while I am working online.” a young woman shared.

“Do women need to hide their gender identities online to protect themselves and feel secure in order to use the new ICTs to express their opinions?” a woman activist asked

These are among many questions and concerns raised by participants who attended the APC WNSP workshop on issue of Electronic Violence against Women i(EVAW) last April in Manila Philippines, one of the initiatives of the APC WNSP's MDG3i project Take Back the Tech! to eliminate violence against women taking place in 12 countries. The intersection between violence against women and privacyi rights is at the core of this discussion...

Read the full editorial at:

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*Democratic Republic of the Congo: Two sides of the same ICT coin - breaking the silence /breaking the laws*
GenderIT.org writer Mavic Cabrera-Balleza speaks with Sylvie Niombo and Francoise Mukuku, ICT activists from Congo-Brazzaville and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) respectively. They discuss various facets of the information and communication technologies and the context to which they apply in the DRC . The interviewees elaborate on how ICTs can be used to reduce incidence of violence against women and how it is also widely used in ways that aggravate the violence and violate privacy laws. They also explain why access to ICTs is critical to the DRC and how it can be used to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

*Pakistan: Jehan Ara talks on censorship, and intrusion into women's space*
(audio interview)
GenderIT.org editor Sonia Randhawa interviews Jehan Ara, the president of the Pakistan Association of Software Houses for IT & ITES (P@SHA) and a partner in the “MDG3: Take Back The Tech! to end violence against women” project, about privacy, ICTs and violence against women, touching on censorship, and intrusion into women's space by both the State and non-state actors - such as husbands, boyfriends, fathers and family.

*South Africa: Privacy and domestic violence online and off*
While women's rights activists have been at the forefront of making the private crimes that occur at home - domestic violence, marital rape - public, new technologies are making the private public in ways that disenfranchise, alienate and violate women. Esther Nasikye and Sally-Jean Shackleton explore how ICTs, privacy and domestic violence in South Africa are showing up problems in both policy and practice.

*Argentina: Strategic use of ICT as a response to violence against women*
Although violence against women through information and communication technologies is not yet a matter of public discussion in Argentina, the problem affects the lives of women and girls. A workshop held in Buenos Aires by APC WNSP to guide women in the strategic use of ICTs to combat violence resulted in some interesting initiatives. Concern regarding the irregular use made of cell phones, the growing circulation of pornographic images and the impact of social networks on women’s privacy are some of the points highlighted in the debates at the workshop. In connection with the workshop, Florencia Goldsman and Flavia Fascendini investigate the status of public policies aimed at promoting the use of ICTs to fight violence towards women, and delve further into some of the aspects of privacy and security.

*South Africa: Pornography and the internet - justifiable protection or entrenching patriarchy?*
A draft Bill proposing a ban on sexual content on the internet and cellphones submitted to the South African Department of Home Affairs in May 2010 claims to have the best interests of women and children in mind. The Bill was submitted to the Department, which oversees the Film and Publications Board, by a non-profit organisation called Justice Alliance of South Africa (JASA). What’s the issue, and will censorship work to address problematic representations of women? These are some of questions investigated by Sally-Jean Shackleton.

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16 slides x 16 seconds draw the story of how violence against women (VAW) and ICTs link. It builds on a series of papers, providing a snapshot and baseline on the law and policy in these two areas in 12 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America. The papers are part of the APC WNSP project 'MDG3: Take Back the Tech! to end violence against women' that connects ICTs, VAW and Millennium Development Goal Three (MDG3) in practice, policy and law in 12 countries. The 16x16 idea follows the Pecha-Kucha presentation format which is 20 x 20 - we've adapted it to 16 for the 16 days of activism against gender violence.




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The right to privacy is the right to be free from unwanted or unauthorised intrusion, whether physically or through access to records and information. It is considered one of the hardest human rights to define, codify and protect legally, although it is guaranteed by various international instruments including the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
Women often experience intrusions into their privacy from both the State and from partners, parents or siblings, restricting and surveilling their movements both on and off line. Privacy issues may also have different contexts and consequences for women. Some speaks in this context about 'good' and 'bad' privacy. Bad or familial privacy, such as imposed modesty, chastity, and domestic isolation, can prevent exposure of spousal and child abuse. Good privacy support individual choice, autonomy and social participation.

*Violence against women*
VAW, or violence against women, means any act that results in harm and disproportionately affects women. The root cause of VAW lies in unequal power relations between men and women in almost all facets of life. Some examples of VAW include domestic violence, rape and sexual harassment.
The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women defines VAW as "any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life".
VAW was recognised as a violation of fundamental human rights in 1993, less than two decades ago, officially through the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women by the United Nations General Assembly. Women's movements across the world are continuously bringing to light new dimensions of VAW, such as 'trafficking in images' and other forms facilitated through the use of new communication and information technologies. However ICTs are also used for prevention of VAW and assistance to VAW survivors.

See also:
*Data protection* : www.genderit.org/glossary/term/984
*Freedom of information* : www.genderit.org/glossary/term/985

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

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In this GenderIT.org edition we are introducing six country partners participating in the “MDG3: Take Back The Tech! to end violence against women” project. This is being implemented by the Association for Progressive Communications Women’s Networking Support Programme and it's partners in 12 countries from África, Latin América and Asia, supported by the MDG3 Fund. In the context of this project, these partners have worked on national ICT policy and advocacy, conducted national strategy meetings, localized the Take Back the Tech! campaign, organized training events called Feminist Tech Exchanges, developed issue papers on violence against women and ICTs, and distributed small grants for projects that use ICT to address or prevent violence against women.

*Bytes for All*
Bytes for All (B4All) is a networked space for citizens in South Asia. It experiments, highlights and organizes debate on the relevance of ICT to development activities. They believe ICTs don't replace the need for good governance or people's rights to equal opportunities, rather ICT can complement this process. It has a really active discussion forum, the Bytes for All Readers Forum http://www.yahoogroups.com/group/bytesforall_readers) that hosts numerous debates and, as they have content sharing arrangements with a number of IT based publications, this content can go offline too.
Website: www.bytesforall.net

Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT and ITES (P@SHA) was initiated 15 years ago by a number of software houses in an attempt to create a functional trade association for the IT industry in Pakistan. Aiming to protect the rights of over 350 companies that are active members, P@SHA lobbied the government to initiate policies and create an environment that would attract more firms to join the industry. P@SHA is a platform for promoting, protecting and developing the software industry in Pakistan, and has made consistent efforts to ensure that the right policy frame works are employed for continued growth and development.
Website: www.pasha.org.pk

*Si Jeunesse Savait*
Si Jeunesse Savait (SJS, “If Young Women Knew” in french) is a feminist group formed in 2001 and based in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It has representation in three provinces of eastern Congo. SJS builds the leadership skills of young women in sexual and reproductive rights, information and communication technologies and entrepreneurship. SJS has 115 members and more than 2000 supporters around Congo. They are involved in advocacy work for a national ICT policy plan for DRC and are also active in research and studies to make sure that gender is at the center of this ICT policy plan. The group also does crosscutting advocacy with other ministries such as education, gender and justice to see a clear plan to train women and girls in ICT and to have a VAW plan that addresses violence in the manner in which it has intersectionalities with ICT.
Website: www.mwasi.cd

*Taller Permanente de la Mujer association*
The association Taller Permanente de la Mujer is a non governmental organization dedicated to advocating the rights of women in Argentina. It began its work in 1988, addressing issues such as health, population, reproductive rights, domestic violence, work and culture. Throughout these 20 years it developed courses, seminars and workshops and published many manuals and materials. In 1995, three of the founding members of the association decided to pursue a project to highlight the fight against discrimination of women and thus was born the Women's Bookstore, one of 62 libraries in the world specializing in books and writings “by” and “for” women. The Women's Bookstore is currently a joint meeting place of many organizations, also maintains a documentation center and a publishing house with the same name.
Website: http://libreriademujeres.com.ar/

Women’sNet is a feminist organisation launched in March 1998 that works to advance gender equality and justice in South Africa through the use of information and communication technologies. They provide training and facilitate content dissemination and creation that supports women, girls, and women’s and gender organisations and networks to take control of their own content and ICT use. The Women'sNet model rests on three pillars, information/content generation linked to networking and capacity building. Women'sNet undertakes research on ICTs as they relate to women and gender, and as they intersect with content development. Women'sNet is particularly interested in examining the impact that ICTs have on women's lives and their potential to meet development goals (in particular the Millennium Development Goals).
Website: www.womensnet.org.za

Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) is a non-governmental organization that aims to develop the use of information and communication technologies among women as tools to share information and address issues collectively. Initiated in May 2000 in Uganda by several women's organizations,
WOUGNET's mission is to promote and support the use of ICT by women and women organizations in Uganda, so that they can take advantage of the opportunities presented by ICT in order to effectively address national and local problems of sustainable development. WOUGNET activities are carried out under three major program areas: Information Sharing and Networking, Technical Support and Gender and ICT Policy Advocacy. To learn more about their ICT policy advocacy work, enter here www.wougnet.org/cms/content/blogsection/13/39/
Website: www.wougnet.org

To find out more about key stakeholders in the field of ICTs, visit the Who's Who in Policy's directory:

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*Mexico: ACTA - anyone making a fuss in your country?*
Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Switzerland and the United States of America are presently negotiating a trade agreement regarding counterfeiting and the enforcement of intellectual property rights, known as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). Erika Smith, communications coordinator of APC WNSP, took part in the meeting organized by the Internet Society (ISOC) Mexico to find out how ACTA can affect laws or upcoming bills that attempt to address other aspects of cybercrime, such violence against women facilitated by the internet.

*Gender divide/gap in Pan-European Dialogue on Internet Governance*
Valentina Pellizzer, OneWorld Platform for SouthEast Europe (owpsee) executive directress, participated in this year's EuroDIG – Pan-European Dialogue on Internet Governance, and has several objections to the very visible gender gap in terms of women's participation at the event, and in the IT sector in general. Her commentary was originally written for the Diplo Internet Governance Community Blog. We carry the full text of her commentary.

To read more Feminist Talk's posts and debates visit:

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*2010 APC Women's Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP). Except where otherwise noted, content in this newsletter is published by GenderIT.org, a project of the APC WNSP, and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You are free to share, republish or remix so long as you attribute GenderIT.org and the author clearly as the original source.
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