Trends in violence against women move online, pose complex challenges

By Flavia Fascendini Publisher: APCNews    

Racheal NakitareRacheal NakitareThe International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT), is an international network of women working in television, film, radio and web-based journalism with 400 members spread across 56 countries. They work to overcome barriers by challenging gender-based stereotyping in the media. IAWRT Kenya chapter is another partnering organisation that will strengthen APC’s project End violence: Women’s rights and safety online along with KICTAnet. APCNews interviewed Racheal Nakitare, Chairperson of IAWRT Kenya to know more about them and their contributions to the project. “Tech related VAW feels like the new kid on the block,” says the interviewee.

APCNews: What are the core mission and goals of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television, Kenya chapter?

Racheal Nakitare: The International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT), is a vibrant international network of women working in television, film, radio and web-based journalism. IAWRT supports the professional development of members through the exchange of ideas, experience and technical knowledge, which are in turn utilised as media skills to ensure that women’s views and concerns are an integral part of the media. IAWRT members continue to highlight issues that impede women’s empowerment through regular programming and joint productions including five-minute documentaries and longer features that are designed along selected themes that resonate with women´s concerns. Our vision is to enhance professional media skills and advance the women’s cause in the world. Our goals include:

  • To build capacity and identify work towards local gender development goals of our partners,
  • To engage in research as the basis on which projects and interventions are built,
  • To mainstream gender issues in the media and ensure that women’s voices are heard and expertise acknowledged. This is in line with article J of the Beijing Platform for Action on Women and Media,
  • To provide opportunities, share strategies and contribute towards the development of women in broadcasting by exchanging professional and technical knowledge and experiences,
  • To build synergies towards common causes around women as well as networks that will enhance our bargaining power for women’s rights, and
  • To empower women using media and media literacy.

IAWRT recognises the unique situations in different countries and encourages training and programme production that fits into the local culture, environment and day-to-day practices in all societies. Trends in violence against women have moved online, posing even more complex challenges that go with anonymity and lack of remedial mechanisms that would deal with such violations legally. Our partnership with APC could not have come at a better time; IAWRT will combine the professional advantage and use of media as a medium for advocacy against technology based violence and engage women leaders, organisations and movements in lobbying policy makers and leaders to come up with policies that will govern appropriate use of technology while sensitising them on secure online communication. The case study methodology will be used to collect data through mapping and build strong cases for intervention.

APCNews: Do you have previous experience working in the project theme?

RN: Yes, most of our programmes have fallen under VAW and women’s rights. Our three flagship programmes have been on anti-trafficking in India, female genital mutilation in Cameroon and half-widows in Kashmir. This project now would only ensure we move with the trends to address the VAW in a more sophisticated context: the internet.

APCNews: If you were asked to take a picture of the tech-related VAW in Kenya, what would it look like?

RN: Tech-related VAW is on the rise. It feels like the new kid on the block. Too much excitement and abuse because of lack of regulatory mechanisms that ensure security and safety for both users and victims.

APCNews: What are your expectations regarding your participation in the “End violence” project?

RN: We aim to sensitise women on the rampant abuse using online platforms, make sure they can identify the violations and be empowered enough to report so that the reports form the basis for research which will in turn inform the formulation of policies that protect online users from abuse.

APCNews: What do you think will be your most significant input during the course of the project?

RN: Our members will map the reports and build evidence around technology-based violence. They will also sensitise and train women in secure online communications so that more women are encouraged to embrace technology. We will use our professional “tools of the trade” to lobby policy makers to come up with policies and laws that guarantee security online.

APCNews: What are your plans in relation to the project for the rest of 2013?

RN: Our members are undergoing training now so that they in turn will train women organisations and media organisations in secure online communications. We will defer to the countries to ensure that the most underprivileged women are informed. We will also engage with like-minded organisations, women leaders, politicians and intermediaries to ensure they understand the vulnerability of women online and protect them. All of our members will be empowered to engage in mapping the stories and research.

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