16x16: rights . violence . technology - joining the dots

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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Transcript of the audio narrative:

1.Violence against women was officially recognized as a violation of fundamental human rights less than two decades ago. In Democratic Republic of Congo rape is used as a weapon of war by combatants from both sides. In South Africa a woman is killed every six hours. In Brazil, for every 100 women murdered 70 are killed by those close to them.

2. Experiences from different countries illustrate various challenges and opportunities for how information and communication technologies impact on violence against women, either in worsening the problem, for example through the use of the internet in trafficking, or in providing a space where women can network against violence.

3.Through media , especially advertisments on television and in magazines, women are bombarded with images of an unrealistic, unattainable “ideal” designed solely for male pleasure. This symbolic violence used to sell products can lead to frustration, depression and anxiety disorders.

4. In Cambodia sex video clips on CDs can be bought from the side of the road for less than one dollar. These CDs feature videos and images of young women shot on phones, for personal use. The clips have been obtained and sold by the traffickers without the knowledge of the people filmed.

5.Information and communication technologies are also used to control women's movement by their spouses or partners. For example, in Uganda, the rapid adoption of mobile telephones has been accompanied with growing invasion of privacy through SMS stalking and monitoring of spouses. Women are expected to be available 24 hours a day and account for their whereabouts to their spouses.

6.Mobile phones and the internet are also used to contact and “promote” girls and women involved in sex tourism and prostitution in general. These technologies are used to specify preferences, conditions, dates and times, with women and girls being bought and sold like merchandise.

7.8.9. On the other hand, the internet or cell phones can be useful tools for women in violent relationships to get help, or to raise public awareness on the issue. In Mexico and Uganda, special help lines are operated for women to report violence or seek help.
In the Philippines, SMSes and web services are used to provide an emergency service to Filipino women working overseas. In Brazil, social networking sites (such as Twitter and Facebook) have been widely used for campaigns on violence against women, such as to promote participation in demonstrations and marches, disseminate materials, and gather signatures on petitions.
In Uganda, two hundred radios were distributed to women and a radio listeners’ club was set up providing information on where to go for help on issues ranging from land rights to sexual violence.

10. Public policies should guarantee the well-being of citizens by effectively combating the different forms of violence used against women and girls. ICTs can contribute both to highlighting violations of these rights and to more effectively enforcing them.

11. Public policies can support measures like nationwide telephone lines that women and girls can call to report violence or public websites where VAW survivors can seek legal assistance. For example, in Brazil, there are a number of services available online through the website of the Special Secretariat for Women’s Policies.

12. It is also important to redefine new dimensions of VAW in policies and legislation addressing issues of violence against women, such as cyberstalking, online harassment or blackmailing. Some legal experts argue that the laws are not enough and more emphasis should be put on prevention, such as through the digital literacy of women and girls to combat VAW and to develop defence mechanisms.

13, 14. Linking violence against women with freedom of expression is problematic. In countries with a poor record of respecting freedom of expression, the 'protection' of women and children from exploitation is often cited as a reason to regulate content and cut freedom of expression online. In Malaysia, anti-pornography legislation is used to prevent women from accessing information on sexual and reproductive rights. Moreover, the rhetoric of protection of women and children is often stronger than action against those who engage in the non-consensual exploitation of women's images.

15. Where is the line between what is private, and what is public? When we share a photo with someone via email or place it on facebook, is it public or private? And how much privacy are we comfortable to give up in order to protect ourselves from abusive behaviour online? Should a government have the right to track producers and users of a particular website that is abusing women rights?

16. It is important to reclaim the capacity of a woman to control and make decisions about her own body, spaces, action and life as an inalienable and fundamental principle. However women are often at a disadvantage when dealing with issues such as censorship and content regulation, privacy and intellectual property rights because they are not always directly represented at the local, regional and national political decision-making structures where those issues are discussed.
Year of publication: 
2009