Life is a journey

Kristine Yakhama
Posted March 12, 2021 from Kenya

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.

Comments 8

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Jill Langhus
Mar 12
Mar 12

Hello, Kristine, Dear,

How are you doing, Dear? That's sad, and annoying, to hear about the female journalist get rape threats for speaking up. I agree more women need to speak out. It's the only way, and more, men. More advocates of women. They're out there but they need to speak up, too. Men are more likely to listen to other men. Hang in there, dear. Thanks for sharing:-)

XX

ARREY- ECHI
Mar 12
Mar 12

Hello Kristine,
Hope you are doing well today. So sorry to hear about the challenges you are facing. I admire the fact that though challenging, you still forge on. These lines below are indeed the reason why we should be telling our stories, because they inspire and motivate others when they know they are not alone:
“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.”

Thank you and keep on keeping on.

Tamarack Verrall
Mar 12
Mar 12

Hi Kristine,
This is all so true, and by naming it you have taken away some of its power, these many ways of punishing women for speaking out. It truly is empowering to read your words, naming these ways people try to wear us down, discrediting us for breaking the rules by naming oppression. When as women we refuse to be silenced, letting these attempts to discredit us roll off our backs, we truly do create change. I love that you know that with your determination to speak out, you are opening the path for other women.
In sisterhood,
Tam

Nini Mappo
Mar 13
Mar 13

Dear Kristine,
It is very unfortunate what you have experienced, but encouraging to hear that your courage silences the fears of these bullying and intimidations so that you can keep going, pushing for the change that we so desperately need. Good on you. Be safe, and take care.

Sushmita Das
Mar 13
Mar 13

The general questions that women are asked by this society is extremely distressing. It may try to break us and all we need to do is to remain firm with our objectives to lead world independently. GBV is really difficult to be eradicated from its roots but we women can put our utmost efforts to do so. Thanks for sharing your powerful words.

Keelan
Mar 14
Mar 14

Thank you for sharing, this is such an important issue. It reminds me how valuable each and every one of our voices is. We never know who we might inspire to stand and speak up next. It's truly a snowball effect, and we all must be brave enough to get -and keep- the ball rolling!

charlenegailtaruwona

Dear Kristine,
I am sorry that you have experienced this. However I thank you for calling out the abuse and not keeping quiet. So many women will find courage to face this by reading your story. We need to keep fighting. Enough is enough!

ikirimat
Apr 02
Apr 02

Thank you for sharing the experience of a female in journalism world. The digital life is here to stay with us and we surely need to embrace it and know how to navigate through the challenges while speaking out for its betterment for women