In 2011, I wrote an article about women confronting VAW using ICTs that featured a story of how women in the olden days creatively used local platforms to combat violence against women. The 59-year-old woman told us that when she was growing up as a young girl, women used to look for a strategic location in the village to broadcast their messages. This location was usually an anthill. The woman would stand on top of the anthill and shout about her husband’s bad behaviours. She would say “my husband is bad, she beats me when I give meat to the children, he is a glutton, he abuses me all the time….”. This was to let everyone in the village hear about her husband’s abusive behaviours. This would prompt the villagers to gossip about him and local musicians would compose songs about him. This shame would cause him to eventually change his ways.
Today, technology especially social media has provided us with much more advanced platforms compared to an anthill where we can broad cast our message globally. Indeed, this is exactly what Prisca Baike did.
On January 19, 2018 at exactly 4:48 PM Prisca Baike , a journalist with a National Newspaper posted on her Facebook Wall: Human Rights Activist, Willington Ssekadde, Abuses, Traumatises and Denies me my Babies aged 3 and 2 years… read the full post . She ended with a call to everyone who cares to come to her rescue. “To all the women, activists, authorities, lawyers, fellow parents, journalists, for how long shall I and other women suffer in silence… Please I beg of you, kindly help me share this message and tag whoever can help me access justice for my little ones. I know there is a kind lawyer out there who can help me access justice. Please help me rescue my children. I am totally stuck... #RescueShanelleAndMalcolm
In just few hours, her post was shared over 3000 times and sympathetic comments started flowing. Many applauded her boldness to break the silence since many women are suffering in silence and enduring violence in all its forms, others wondered that if a journalist like her can be denied her children and subjected to such, one can only imagine the situation of many young women in our communities.
Similarly, the media picked up her story and shared widely. See NBS TV: A Tale of Domestic Violence; Pearl Times: A Mother’s Tears: Observer Reporter Prisca Baike, Husband Fight Over Children. In a short time, we received news that that the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development had intervened, and Prisca was given access to her children.
This story clearly demonstrates the power of Information and Communication Technology and how it can be enhanced to bring about positive change. However, it should be noted that ICT is a double-edged sword.
Whereas such technologies have created new ways to connect and share experiences, these digital spaces have also provided platforms for the replication and continuation of the perpetration of violence against women-Cyber Violence Against Women and Girls. This calls for more awareness and training on digital security, online rights to ensure safe and meaningful utilisation of ICT