How do you challenge existing inequalities by speaking up? When you voice your thoughts, do you face threats and abuse? How is violence used to disrupt solidarity and collective action where you are? How do you fight back?
From women critiquing culture to girls posting selfies, the more visible a woman is online, the more abuse she faces. And the more digitally connected we are, the wider our risk. Whether it is a stranger tweeting threats or a partner monitoring mobile phone activity, the aim is to silence and control us. Additionally, such violence is often sexualised and aims to make us feel isolated and alone.
Violence against women attempts to restrict freedom of expression. It is difficult to participate in the public sphere, contribute to culture and decision making or critique policies and systems when we are fearful. We may not even be able to dress or dance or celebrate the way we want to. The internet is becoming an increasingly important public space, and violence is a real threat – a strategy to narrow our capacity to participate in and define the space.
Yet exercising our right to freedom of expression is critical to ending violence and promoting other rights. We can only create change by speaking up, making it visible, exchanging information and building solidarity through communication.
As part of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, Take Back the Tech! invites you to help us reframe the conversation about violence against women as a violation of our fundamental human right to freedom of expression.
Build knowledge on how violence is used as a strategy to silence. Use your mobile phone and interview women and girls where you live on what, when and how they are silenced through violence. Share them with us and tag them #takebackthetech. (As always, get consent before publishing.)
On 29 November, join us in commemorating the women human rights defenders who are silenced through various tactics of violence, including removal of their channels of communication. We will create a digital quilt with messages of solidarity, adding our voices to their resistance to silencing.
How have you responded to online violence? What actions did you take? Strengthen our capacity to fight back and challenge violence by sharing your strategies of resistance. Blog your story, chat with us on Twitter @takebackthetech or write your own 10 tips for challenging violence and safe communications and tag us!
Don’t let violence silence us. Speak out! Take Back the Tech!