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Violence against women; what role does ICTs Play?

Violence against women continues to be widespread and socially tolerated despite the fact that it’s a human rights violation. Domestic violence disempowers women and negatively affects women’s health and productivity sometimes resulting into death. In addition, the cost to women, their children, families and communities is a significant obstacle to reducing poverty, achieving gender equality and ensuring a peaceful transition for post-conflict societies.

Violence against women has as its root in the structural inequalities between men and women that result in the persistence of power differentials between the sexes. Women’s subordinate status to men in many societies, coupled with a general acceptance of interpersonal violence as a means of resolving conflict, renders women disproportionately vulnerable to violence from all levels of society: individual men, within the family and community, and by the state (ACGSD 2009[1]).

In Uganda many women and girls in Uganda suffer from sexual and gender-based violence committed by state actors, military services and rebel armies, as well as non-state actors within the family and the community. The persistence of patriarchal patterns of behaviour and the existence of stereotypes relating to the role of women perpetuate the discrimination of women within Ugandan society. The difficulties women face are not only due to intimidation, hostility and ridicule from the community, but also due to the states inaction in ensuring redress.

ICTs can play a major role in combating VAW and a number of women’s organisations are making use of ICTs such as the internet, TV, radio, news papers and other print media to highlight VAW including rape, victimisation and harassment.

The Internet can be a useful tool to get information about gender based violence as well as raise awareness around such issues to the general public and global community. Mobile phones provide women with an opportunity to avoid being domesticated by opening links with the outside world for business, social networking and reporting or obtaining support in abusive relationships. Internet and email can be also be instrumental in mobilising to advocate against violation of collective and individual rights.

On the other hand ICTs have been can perpetrate violence against women e.g. through spousal control of the mobile telephone, fights, invasion of privacy, monitoring and control, etc

[1] ACGSD (2009), Draft Situational Analysis  in Gender Based Violence