Having experienced some forms of online gender-based violence (GBV) I know how stressful and draining it can be. On top of receiving non-consensual content, I also felt pressure to keep quiet, women are not supposed to complain, she says. As a WHRD, am used to the subtle pressure that women not abiding by patriarchal gender norms experience. A continuous trickling of seemingly small questions can be rather stressful: “Why are you so loud and outspoken as a woman? When will you get married? How will you take care of your family if the authorities come for you? These kinds of questions make me feel uncomfortable, they make me wonder if I am doing the right thing, “but if I want online GBV to end I also need to end these harmful gender stereotypes. Establishing women’s rights is a slow process and keeping quiet won’t speed it up.” There is still a lot of work ahead of fellow World pulse champions and women’s rights activists. I recently researched digital rights violations during the COVID-19 pandemic and struggled to find female interviewees. Female journalists reporting on politically sensitive topics experienced reprisals like rape, but due to stigma and worries how this will affect their future, they were not willing to speak out. While male journalists on the other hand expressed themselves freely: men are often perceived as bold and brave, making it easier to speak out on reprisals and rights violations they endured. But the more women speak out, the easier it gets, am convinced. “It really motivates me when I see that other women have faced the same kind of challenges with online violence, and they have dealt with it. Whatever I go through, it’s not the end of life. Hearing other stories helps me to keep working hard, to be a better version of myself and to go beyond the difficulties.” Fighting the digital gender divide is my way to make sure that it gets easier for women to speak out and be loud.
This story was submitted in response to #HerStoryMakesHistory.