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The East Africa Resource Centre (EARC) of the African Development Bank hosted a panel discussion on the development of violence against women in the cyber space in Kenya on December 10, 2015 at its offices in Nairobi.
The event is part of the 16 days of activism against gender violence, a United Nations campaign, which started on November 25, 2015.
Gabriel Negatu, the EARC’s Regional Director reiterated in his opening remarks that violence against women and girls was one of the most rampant human rights violations. He noted the importance of the campaign in addressing emerging issues around technology-based violence against women. “This conversation on gender-based cyber violence should happen throughout the year and should not be confined only to the 16 days of activism,” he said.
In the recent past, Kenya has witnessed gender based attacks on the cyber space platform, including social media. Some of it has resulted in death, health challenges and court cases. Women across the board have been affected, ranging from senior government officials, politicians, media and entertainment personalities, and students, among others.
Salina Sanou, head of Policy and Advocacy at the Agency for Cooperation and Research in Development (ACORD), observed that gender-based cyber violence was a new phenomenon in Kenya, and a better understanding of it was needed. The organisation is running sensitisation campaigns on the issue at the grass roots level. The campaign seeks to create awareness on how individuals should conduct themselves online in order to protect themselves from predators.
The panel discussion specifically interrogated how gender violence in the cyber space manifests itself, with the aim of finding possible solutions that can be implemented by governments, industry, and households to protect women and young children from abuse.
Participants were drawn from UN Women, UK’s Department for International Development, Bloggers Association of Kenya, ICT Authority, the National Police Service, among others.