'' Online harassment is an effort to put women down,back to their ''place''
I am a woman who identifies herself as a feminist and most of my advocacy is done both offline and online.In 2014,while volunteering with an International nonprofit organization,I had as responsibility to do advocacy on the effects of rape over the social media - calling on victims of rape not to negotiate rape cases with their perpetrators.After some few days, I started receiving messages from my Facebook account from someone I did not know.The messages were;
- ''Your Advocacy won't change anything because women incite men to rape them''
- '' Women secretly enjoyed being raped''
- '' Women ask for it by their dress or action''
- '' No woman can be raped against her will''
I was scared to continue my work as an advocate. I left social media for three months and focused on my offline advocacy.It limits my right to full participation as a volunteer and suppressed my freedom of expression.My work lost its visibility,credibility and momentum.I couldn't complete my volunteering opportunity with the organization I was volunteering with.
In Cameroon,in 2017, 2 girls private naked videos and pictures taken by their boyfriends , were posted on Facebook and shared on Whatssapp groups without their consent.The Government did not take any action to punish the perpetrators and the victims were left to manage their experiences even as they faced threats.They experienced psychological and emotional pain and they had to'' log off'' from Facebook.They were not provided with Psycho Social Support to revamp their self-esteem.Ironically, these cases were ''laughed off'' and most of the people who shared these videos to me were girls.
Cases of online harassment are under looked,dismissed,not reported,not recorded and does not have existing statistical data because it is seen as a minor abuse.
For women to participate fully over the social media,they should not accept friend request from people they don't know because most often,online harassers are mostly people we don't know.
Girls should be encouraged to enroll in STEM related courses which will enable them to develop software that would be implemented onto window and android programs to filter messages of online harassment.
The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Abuse against Women (CEDAW) should be revised and integrate online harassment as a legitimate and harmful manifestation of Gender Based Violence that relegate women to the background.
As women, we won't ''log off''. We demand a better internet where we can fully participate,where we can share our experiences and learn from each other.