Addressing OGBV in Southern Africa/ Zambia
By Bulanda Nkhowani
- Adaptability and relevance of TPDL approach to communities?
The TPDL and playbook are very relevant and adaptable for the Southern Africa/ Zambian community and crucial for bringing everyone to the table because most of the effort being made by various stakeholders to combat online violence has been done in silos. This has led to repeated efforts in the past made by different actors that could easily be galvanized for shared goal setting and maximum impact. However, possible challenges could emerge when it comes to getting stakeholders to come to one table through the TPDL and getting fulfillment on a call to action or commitments made as this requires a lot of persuasions. In addition, there is a general lack of understanding of online gender-based violence by different factions including government actors like the ministries of gender who typically deal with such issues offline. TPDL and the playbook need to decentralize efforts to grassroots and contextualized based on different social realities with an understanding of the patriarchal power dynamics. Furthermore, contextualize the TPDL based on geography/ location, target stakeholder groups, simplified language and provision for translation into popular versions of local languages as well as audio- visual provisions for the visually impaired.
What kinds of challenges is a TPDL good for?
a. Online gender based violence is a vast field, are there specific goals that this framework is appropriate for addressing?
Looking at the Southern African context, the TPDL is good for overall raising awareness of online violence against women to get everyone’s capacity on the same level, especially at a time when most stakeholders do not understand the online gender-based violence concepts. There is no clear roadmap on how to recognize and mitigate acts of online violence against women. Consequently, too much time is spent addressing a case from the time that it is reported either by law enforcement or tech platforms who is preferential treatment for accounts that get suspended on social media networks when they are reported for gross behavior.
Furthermore, the framework is relevant for building consensus because the concept of online GBV is relatively new and most stakeholders are battling to understand it. However, the framework is ideal for designing online safety tools for women and minority groups to empower them with digital security, hygiene practices, and protection measures because the law is inadequate.
Once overall awareness raising and sensitization are achieved we can then get into awareness and advocacy on specific issues. Specifically, this approach is ideal for addressing online harassment, hate speech, non-consensual sharing of intimate images and bullying of minority groups like the LGBTQI community who face significant violence but cannot get help because the laws of the land do not recognize their rights.
b. What are they? E.g., Get the government to take some action, get resources for a project, get tech platforms to make changes.
Some of the challenges that the TDPL could address include getting the legal force and law enforcement to act faster on cases and professionally toward victims.
Tech companies to take responsibility for issues reported on their platforms, manage community standards, review policy needs, hasten the investigation of cases and fast-track response mechanisms to reported cases.
Government to address limitations in the law, achieve policy action and promote charges punitive for offenders. Overall, the framework is ideal for overall online violence prevention.
c. If the TPDL framework does not work for your community’s goals What would be a better approach? Or are there approaches that can complement the current framework?
Currently, this appears to be the best approach and most useful as the TPDL model has the potential to bring everyone to the table including policymakers and the big players who typically have limited engagements with the public. While effort is undertaken, most stakeholders are working in silos and there is little publicly available knowledge and information to inform concrete efforts, making the TPDL good for consensus building. However, the TPDL approach may be challenging as it requires resources to attain follow-through on action points as well as strong commitments from change makers and knowledgeable implementors to effect change. In essence, there is a need for the multisectional TPDL approach, however, budgetary challenges seem to impact it as it is costly to bring certain stakeholders such as the government. Notably, there is a need to develop technological interventions to counter online GBV since the violence is faced on technology platforms. Further, a need to involve affected communities and those in rural or remote areas in designing interventions. As well as use unconventional means of coming up with ideas.
The African View on TPDL in Nigeria
by Victory Brown
Online gender-based violence (GBV) can have a significant impact on African women's safety, mental health, and ability to fully participate in online spaces. The internet's anonymity and accessibility can foster online harassment, stalking, and abuse. African women may also face additional forms of online GBV, such as digital blackmail, which can involve the use of intimate images or videos. This can cause feelings of shame and fear, as well as hinder their access to education, employment, and other opportunities. Furthermore, online GBV can intensify offline forms of GBV, making it more difficult for victims to seek help or escape dangerous situations.
Tech Policy Design Labs in Africa are relatively new, but they are starting to emerge as a way to address the unique challenges and opportunities presented by technology on the continent.
Some examples of tech policy design labs in Africa include:
- The African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS) in Kenya, conducts research on the impact of technology on development in Africa and provides policy recommendations to governments and international organizations.
- The Center for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law (CIPIT) at Strathmore University in Kenya, conducts research on intellectual property, technology law, and policy in Africa.
- The Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law (CIPIT) at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, conducts research on Intellectual property, IT law and policy in Africa, and provides policy recommendations to governments, international organizations, and private sector stakeholders.
- The African School of Internet Governance (AfriSIG), which is a program of the Internet Society, aims to provide training and capacity-building to individuals and organizations in Africa on internet governance issues, including policy and regulation.
Tech policy design labs in Africa are working to address the specific challenges and opportunities presented by technology on the continent, such as bridging the digital divide, protecting privacy and security, and promoting innovation and entrepreneurship.
In Nigeria, there are a few projects working with policymakers on some technology discussions.
- Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN) is a social enterprise that works to promote digital rights and inclusion in Nigeria and Africa. They conduct research, provide training, and engage with policymakers on issues related to internet governance, digital rights, and the digital economy.
- Digital Rights and Inclusion (DRI) Lab, an initiative of the International Centre for IT and Development (ICITD), conducts research and advocacy on digital rights and inclusion in Nigeria.
- The Centre for Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics (CCDF) at the Federal University of Technology, Akure, conducts research and provides training on cybersecurity and digital forensics.
- The Centre for Cybersecurity and Cybercrime Research at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, conducts research and provides training on cybersecurity and cybercrime issues.
Sample challenges that are good fits for TPDL
In Nigeria, in the year 2020, youths demonstrated against police harassment and brutality in the "End Sars" protest. The police force, which was supposed to protect the people, became criminals. Because of the expensive gadgets they use, young men and women have been harrassed and violently harmed.
The law prohibits fraud after a thorough investigation, but the officers in charge would refuse to conduct these investigations and violently harass young men and women on the streets, in their homes, and in their cars. No young working adolescent was safe.
This resulted in the end of the Sars protest in October 2020, as well as the deaths of many young promising individuals as police opened fire on protesters who were unarmed. This may seem like a political issue, but a TPDL can discuss strategies that can be enforced by the government and other policy makers.
Research Highlights Showing the need
Research can be done by the legislative or researchers who are into reforms and youth empowerment. Policies can be made by the government that protect youths against public and unlawful harassment. This research would take a dive into Police reformation and how to use technology to fight fraud and other criminal activities by youths who understand the technology.
There is a need for this, as many talented youths are migrating from the country, due to the harassment and violence and they feel they are not safe. Other ways technology can be used to protect these individuals against harassment can be examined.
Existing toolkits on Online Gender Base violence and Improvements.
Existing laws and structures.
- The Legal Structure of the Police and Human Rights in Nigeria
- How police brutality poses threat to Nigeria’s tech industry.
- How Technology Shapes—and Sometimes Deforms—Policing Culture
The "African Digital Rights Hub" (ADRH) is a design lab based in Johannesburg, South Africa. It conducts research, engages with stakeholders,, and provides training on digital rights and internet governance issues in Africa. ADRH's mission is to promote and protect human rights online in Africa by providing evidence-based policy recommendations, fostering dialogue,, and building the capacity of stakeholders.
The ADRH brings together experts from various disciplines such as law, computer science, sociology, and development studies to conduct research on digital rights and internet governance issues in Africa. They conduct research on topics such as the impact of internet shutdowns on human rights, the role of intermediaries in the governance of the internet, and the impact of automation on the future of work.
The ADRH engages with stakeholders such as policymakers, civil society organizations, and industry leaders to gather input and feedback on their research and policy recommendations. They also work closely with other research centers and organizations working on similar issues to foster collaboration and networking.
Based on their research, the ADRH develops policy recommendations such as:
- The need for a human rights-based approach to internet governance
- The importance of protecting freedom of expression and privacy online
- The need for greater accountability and transparency from intermediaries
- The need for digital literacy and capacity building to ensure that all stakeholders can participate in internet governance processes.
The ADRH communicates its research and policy recommendations through various means, such as reports, workshops, and conferences. They also continuously evaluate and improve their operations and processes to ensure they are meeting their goals and delivering value to the community.
Using TPDL to address OGBV in Mexico
by Candy Rodriguez
How do we execute/propose legislative projects that help eradicate online gender violence through the use of TDPL?
In Latin America there are various legislative projects that have been aimed at recognizing and punishing gender violence online. Mexico, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Colombia are some of the countries that have incorporated legislative projects. It is important to highlight that most of these discussions would not have taken place without the initiative of women's groups and civil society organizations that have incorporated the issue of human rights in digital spaces into regional agendas. Talking about gender violence online is not new in Latin America. Fromin 2006 The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) with their Take Back the Tech campaign began to point this out through the document “TECHNOLOGY-RELATED VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN–a briefing paper”.
To understand how the TDPL works in this region, we focus on what happens in the Mexican case regarding how legislative projects have been proposed and executed with reflections from civil society, academia and various activists to understand and eradicate gender violence. online. We are interested in highlighting what the legislative process is and how its process has been in Mexico.
Sample challenges that are good fits for TPDL
In Mexico, since 2018, a series of laws began at the local and federal level to punish the violation of sexual intimacy -It is how it was named in Mexican legislation to what is known as dDissemination of intimate content without consent. -- and cyberbullying, as well as to recognize digital violence in the Law for Women's Access to a Life Free of Violence, which is a resource that aims to establish coordination between the Federation, the federal entities, Mexico City and municipalities to prevent, punish and eradicate violence against women, as well as the principles and modalities to guarantee their access to a life free of violence.
There are currently thirty-two local laws on the dissemination of intimate content without consent (violation of sexual privacy); in addition to federal legislation on the subject. There is no homologation in the terms of the Criminal Codes of each of the country's states to define this modality of violence against women and they have created around eleven different terms to talk about the same thing.
Although this initiative started from the organization of women in different states of the country, it lacked an analysis and "an intersectional approach in which there was greater inclusion with more communities, such as indigenous or migrant women" as mentioned by the cultural promoter Gisela Romero, adolescent women or girls; It is also important to mention that these reforms will focus on women who have greater access to information, leaving out people who are in decentralized communities. In addition, it had a completely punitive approach in which punishment and imprisonment were the central theme, other options such as damage repair or prevention were not considered.
Research highlights showing the need
When considering a use of TDPL to address gender-based violence online we must take into accountthat in this type of initiatives it is possible to differentiate between what is a public policy, a program and a legislative reform. It is necessary to implement training that is not based on prohibition and punitiveness because this does not contribute to the construction of human rights, which is what the feminist movement seeks, according to a statement by the Mexican activist, Angelica Contreras.
We can also consider that since digital violence was recognized as a form of violence in the Law on Women's Access to a Life Free of Violencethere are budget items that are destined solely to address cases of gender violence in the country and gender violence in digital spaces is central; However, by promoting a punitive vision where punishment stands out, there has not been the necessary training for public servants, police, educational sectors or awareness about the issue for society in general. Many of these trainings are given by activists independently, with external funds, autonomously and often without follow-up due to lack of budget.
At the societal level, we need not only to know that there is a law, but we also have to have tools to access justice, know complaint protocols, that public servants have awareness training and tools to understand how gender-based violence works online; as well as in a general way, society must know what we can do to prevent it.
2.c. Existing laws and structures
As I mentioned, there are the reforms of the so-called Olympia Law that have served to open the way to recognize gender violence online, however, the issue does not end there, we need to promote, raise awareness, recognize and name in order to eradicate this problem. We must be involved with civil society actors, governments, companies, affected people and academics.
2.c. Additional Resources
Table with the reflections they had regarding the topics that we created for the TPDL
A case that I think is important to mention as an example is that of an indigenous woman who works for the government in a project for cultural promoters, lives on the outskirts of Mexico City, is a university student, speaks Nahuatl as a second language; and in an online session that is organized by the cultural promoters program, she suffers digital violence for the fact of making visible the trajectory of important women in her region. The session called "Women of lakes and mountains" where they talked about Luz Jimenez suffered a seizure zoombombing with sexual connotations.
The promoter program, much less she was prepared with a care or prevention protocol, she mentioned to us that she didn't even know that it was called zoombombing,I knew there was Olympia Law but I had no idea that such an attack could be reported.
They had to take measures individually to offer him psychological support, but there was no possibility of denouncing or acting on the incident.
These types of cases exemplify why it is necessary to build public policies with intersectional, intergenerational approaches, and with a human rights and feminist perspective that are committed to prevention, beyond punitive visions that do not guarantee access to justice.
Some resources that will help us understand this are:
- Laws that can help you against the dissemination of intimate content without consent Harassment.Online, Mexico (2021);
- Feminist public policies on the distribution of intimate images without consent. Beyond the law. Acoso.Online, Regional, (2020);
- We love you, we accompany you and we protect you. Guide for mothers, fathers and teachers to prevent cases of digital violence in childhood and adolescence Cultivating Gender A.C., Mexico (2022)
- Legal sheet of Olympia Law: http://ordenjuridico.gob.mx/violenciagenero/LEY%20OLIMPIA.pdf
- Public budgets in Mexico with a gender perspective: http://puntogenero.inmujeres.gob.mx/presupuestos/pre_t2_pan01_pag01.html
TDPL regional outcomes : India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka
Current perspective on the public policies that have been implemented in Pakistan regarding online gender based violence?
Pakistan does not have a lot of policies around online gender based violence. Cybercrime law, or the legal term or legal name for that law is prevention of electronic Crimes Act was passed in the year August 2016. Being the only law that generally looks at all cyber crimes, online, gender based violence comprises a very small component under the purview of law. That said, Even though there are components and even to the sections, and the, you know, just genuinely the parts of the legislation that deals with online gender based violence on paper, they're very progressive. Since 2016, a lot of the gaps in the legislation were observed in the draft stage. The inputs were provided by the while it was while the law was still a draft, in 2015, and 2016, we've pointed these gaps during that time and be asked to government and, you know, the ministries and and policymakers involved in the process to identify and do the act to rectify them. But the law was passed very hastily at the time because one of the social media sort of personality or celebrity, she was killed. And a lot of times in a lot of conversations.
Cyberspace is growing rapidly to include the professional, personal, and social aspects of our lives. Users have found communities that allow even minority communities to reach a large audience. Finding communities to echo beliefs has entrenched the opinions of many; unfortunately, this newfound agency for the marginalised has triggered reactions from the privileged sections. With greater access and the allowance for anonymity; the associated abuse, oppression, and different forms of violence continue to fester.
This anonymity holds greater value in private online spaces than in public online spaces. In public spaces, the target of soft violence, especially women and other minority genders, can still call upon their own community and use that as a defense equal in number to the perpetrators of GBV (Gender-based Violence). Private spaces online allow the illusion of access since they are not enclosed as they may present in the physical world. Invasion of privacy and harassment have become much easier due to the perception of access, along with the deepening of para-social relationships. Even within the realm of the digital, GBV has formed a clear presence, especially towards those who are disenfranchised.
The target of soft violence, especially women and other minority genders, can still call upon their own community and use that as a defense equal in number to the perpetrators of GBV (Gender-based Violence).
Crime and associated offenses are hard to define when it comes to cyberspace, especially so in private online spaces, however, there are a few forms of GBV that are clearly demarcated as such by the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and offensive in general, irrespective of the identity of participants—though in most cases women are at the receiving end of such invasion. In this discussion, GBV can include sending lewd unsolicited pictures, making threatening comments, using technology to distort images, spreading these without consent, and using deep fake technology to create and/or spread non-consensual intimate images, cyber flashing, etc. Multiple sections of the IPC cover some levels of protection against receipt of such forms of violence including email spoofing (Section 463 IPC), cyber-hacking (Section 66), sending obscene messages (Section 66A IPC), and pornography (Section 292 IPC).
Spreading via social media
Despite the existence of these legalities, online harassment reports have increased by 110 percent between 2018 and 2020 with the current rate of cyber-based sexual exploitation at 6.6 percent of all cyber-crimes (2020), especially with the introduction of private online spaces, different social media platforms, video conferencing applications, dating platforms, and even online networking platforms.
Many social media apps and dating apps, primarily Bumble, have successfully attempted to lobby for regulations in Texas and California. These bills have helped regulate a safer environment online.
Further, dating apps have introduced Artificial Intelligence (AI) options to scour images for any offensive objects, like guns, images of violence, lewd displays of body parts, etc., the power to view is given to the user vis-à-vis spam accounts or users who do not follow the user guidelines of these platforms. Many of these applications also use photo verification to ensure that the user does not create a fake profile during the process of signing up.
Similar forms of photo verification augmented with user complaints worked against the profiles of transsexual people. In 2019, Tinder began its attempt at countering such harassment and exclusion to make its platform safer for all. However, with the automated system backing most banned accounts, it remains difficult for transsexual people and other members of the LGBTQIA+ to find security and peace in using these platforms. Despite the clear need for one, there is no trans-inclusive sexual harassment law in India.
General perspective on the public policies that have been implemented in Sri Lanka regarding online gender based violence?
That's a helpline that is implemented by the government. So if you are a victim of online SGBV Do you can call it is mostly for by Kim's off SGBV. So we can probably chain the telephone operators to work there. Set up during the cabinet memorandum it talks about the bill be the bill and the national policy and talks about, you know, setting up a National Women's Commission, I'm not that so all these I think they are largely talking about real life real life in the sense non virtual experiences only. So we can perhaps get online SGBV inserted into these documents at least, yes, it is written like as the word is mentioned. So that could in the future be an entry point for other people to work on. And we can sort of tap into the justice sector,
Material conditions for people have not improved, and in fact, they've kind of deteriorated even more. And this government is not very keen on putting forward, like fiscal policies that are geared towards alleviating poverty and stabilizing the economy in a pro people way.
we don't have like dedicated laws to address online gender based violence, what we go by our penal code and other pieces of legislation, so it's all very discombobulated. And then you kind of apply what fits to a given case in hand. And I just want to make it very clear that I am not advocating at all for creating new laws. Because I personally don't believe that legislating around social media is the way to mitigate harm or risk. All it does is criminalize more behaviour by expression. And at the end of the day, it does not serve the purpose it claims to that being said, I think the laws that we do have also don't necessarily address what online gender based violence would mean. For example, if we think of non consensual image sharing in Sri Lanka, the law that applies is this colonial time law on obscenity I'm sure that I know there's a version in India, I think, across the continent, you know, you have certain iterations of obscenity laws. So if it's a non consensual image sharing, then it's the obscenity law that applies, which means you're essentially not punishing someone for sharing someone's image without consent. You actually punishing someone because you deem that image to be obscene, pornographic, immoral, immodest. So that's what the letter of the law orders.
Common trends observed across India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka
- The real number of cases is never reported to the concerned authorities due to lack of trust
- Steep rise in the circulation of non consensual nude images by former partners
- Implementation of actual law in practical terms is weak