CSO launches website to track, curb online gender-based violence

A civil society organisation, TechHerNG, has launched a website to monitor and curb online gender-based violence (OGBV) against women in Nigeria.

This was contained in a statement obtained by The ICIR on Friday, signed by the Executive Director of the organisation, Chioma Agwuegbo, after the launch of the website.

Agwuegbo said the website – launched with the support of Hivos and the Digital Defenders Partnerships – named, Kuram, which translates to ‘keep me safe’ in Tiv, aims at tackling violence perpetrated in digital spaces.

She said the OGBV response platform was designed to provide an avenue for women and other vulnerable groups to report cases of digital violence perpetrated against them.

Agwuegbo said the unnoticed and silent victims of OGBV lost to poor data and the non-availability of avenues to report violations, and the platform’s ability to collect and store data on digital violence,  while advancing advocacy efforts and evidence for the remediation of cases.

She indicated the need for actionable answers like Kuram to provide safe spaces for women and other vulnerable groups engaging with internet technologies.

“TechHer has invested a lot of resources to demystify technology for young women and girls through our school tour projects. It is a shame that while we encourage women to access and wield technology more, they are discouraged by the violence perpetrated against them in digital spaces.

“Online violence goes beyond revenge porn; it is bullying, doxing, deep fakes, amongst other forms of violence perpetrated against women and other vulnerable groups on the internet,” she said.

The statement read that during the launch of the website, the Country Director of Plan International, Charles Usei, restated the essence of safeguarding women’s safety in the digital space, adding the need for survivors’ justice stories to be shared to encourage others to speak up.

    During the launch, the Executive Director of DIGICIVIC Initiative, Mojirayo Ogunlana, lamented that many Nigerians, especially victims of online gender-based violence, were unaware of their digital rights due to the ambiguity of Nigerian laws. She, however, listed the simple solution of simplifying relevant laws to boost awareness of internet user rights.

    “Simplifying these laws provides a pathway for better understanding and, in turn, helps people to be aware that they can seek legal recourse when their rights have been violated online. Several cases have been taken to the courts simply by enabling awareness of personal rights,” Ogunlana said.

    Stakeholders were encouraged to share the website’s interventions within their communities as active players in the fight to end violence against women in all forms.

    Further calls were made to security agencies and policymakers to recognise and act on the nascent threat of OGBV.

    Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

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