10 years of Take Back the Tech!

16 November 2016

Technology facilitates violence against women, but it also facilitates information sharing, capacity building, networking and alternative media – Take back the tech! is the realisation of the idea that the internet can be used to expand the movement against all forms of gender-based violence. For over 10 years various campaigns have taken place in different parts of the world, in different languages and idioms, that not only push back on the growing amounts of online harassment and online VAW (violence against women) but actively claim the internet as a space, a forum, a playground and a hope for women and gender non-conforming people, and also queer and trans people.

This edition brings to us the voices from the campaigns scattered across the world, from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Canada, Bosnia-Herzegovina to India. The editorial written by Sara Baker who has led the campaign for almost 4 years now points to the shift that has taken place recently, and how finally online VAW is being acknowledged as a problem in mainstream news, included as an offence in the laws of several countries. Online VAW or TRVAW (technology related violence against women) is being taken seriously for how it effects women and their well being, how it is patriarchal and wilful suppression of the voices of women, and actively contributes to a culture of silencing and censorship. This also extends to other minorities and groups that are vulnerable online, whether because of gender, race, caste, sexual orientation, political and religious beliefs, and ethnicity.

Editorial: Taking back the tech for 10 years
Sara Baker
Ten years ago it was hard to explain what is gender based violence online, while now there is some recognition of the widespread misogyny and violence that exists in online spaces towards women and gender non conforming people. It took a decade of tough, dedicated work by women all over the world that finally put technology-related violence in the spotlight. This edition is a collection of interviews with women who have taken back ownership and celebrated their power through technology in various campaigns across the globe. Enjoy taking back the tech with us!

At the cutting edge: TBTT campaigner Francoise Mukuku in DRC
Tarryn Booysen
When the TBTT campaign took off in Democratic Republic of Congo, there were few takers. Women rights’ activists combatting VAW didn’t understand the role ICTs could play in either propagating violence, or in activism. Now other Francophone countries approach SJS to learn more about the ways in which this cutting edge campaign is changing conversations around technology related VAW and reclaiming tech for women in the DRC.

V for Vale: 10 year journey of TBTT! Campaign in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Lamia Kosovic
Vale Pellizzer looks back at the 10 year journey of the TBTT campaign in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The campaign has taken various shapes in the complicated realities and social dynamics of this country. The fresh and young design of the campaign promised a new hope for reclaiming your agency for women and gender non-conforming people. In this interview Vale talks about the complexities of translating a global campaign to the local realities.

Technology as lingua franca: Interview with Caroline Tagny
Bianca Baldo
A detailed conversation with activist and writer Caroline Tagny on the various campaigns that she has been part of with Take Back the Tech. The interviewer, Bianca Baldo, focuses on the politics of language in these various campaigns and the importance of content in local language to connect to and bring together people and movements. The role of French as both a language of the colonial oppressor and a common language in countries in West and Central Africa and parts of Canada has particularly played out in these campaigns.

In Search of Allies: Interview with TBTT campaigners in India
In this set of interviews, Smita speaks to Japleen Pasricha of Feminism in India, and Divya Rajgopal of WhyHate. In separate ways, both these are projects of passion that find ways to reclaim technology for women and also others marginalised on account of gender non-conformity, sexuality, caste, religion and class. They discuss the pros and cons of anonymity, how to address online VAW and how to raise issues that are difficult and troublesome.

Digital Storytelling: All our stories are true and they are ours!
Jennifer Radloff
It is a sacred act to tell and to listen to stories. Some of our stories are rooted so deep in our cells, psyches and hearts, that it takes an act of courage to find the words to tell them. We conceptualise digital story telling as a recording and documentation method which foregrounds the voice and experiences of story tellers as primary in the process of storytelling. It is an empowering way to reclaim technology and to carve out the space to tell our own stories.

Enjoy reading this edition and looking at the amazing campaigns, posters and designs from 10 years of TBTT globally.
Original illustration: Vicky Monte
Original illustration: Vicky Monté

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