Women activists have urged Ugandan government to effect arrest of those people who make derogatory attacks on women via various social media platforms, if the nation is to get rid of cyber-crimes.
This was revealed during a capacity building workshop on understanding gender-based cyber violence and the tools to challenge, combat, prevent and counter the vice, at Serena Hotel, Kampala on Tuesday.
Ms Juliet Nanfuka, the Communications and Research Officer at Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), said the increasing reach of the internet, the rapid spread of mobile information, and the widespread use of social media has been abused by perpetrators of cyber Violence against Women (VAW).
“…cyber Violations against Women include; trolling, receipt of unsolicited images and messages of sexual nature, stalking, misinformation of issues of feminism, unauthorized tracking online activity, use of derogatory remarks in comments on social media, hate speech based on sexual identity and body shaming among others,” she said.
“Government should put more effort in ensuring that law enforcement structures are well versed in addressing cyber-crime and Cyber Violence against Women and Girls. Often emphasis has been put on looking for the victims for example the women whose nudes have been exposed rather than those offenders, who expose these nudes,” Ms Nanfuka said.
She explained that there is need for government to ensure that the police posts have the necessary skills, equipment and understanding of the effects of cyber-crimes. She said there was a call for the laws to be implemented indiscriminately and a call for legal services to be more affordable and easily accessible for women who have experienced cyber VAW.
She as well asked Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to advocate for policy that recognizes cyber VAW as a detriment to civic participation, freedom of expression and access to information.
Other than that she added that CSOs need to create awareness on the repercussions/consequences of cyber VAW as well as advocate and advance mechanism that cater to the online information and content needs of Ugandan women.
According to Ms Mercy Ndegwa the Head of Public Policy, East Africa at Facebook, she said Facebook has tried to control cyber VAW through creating community standards.
She explained these rules help to moderate safety online as they help them sieve what they think is acceptable or unacceptable before they take down a post from Facebook.
Ms Ndegwa added that some post can as well be taken down after human intervention, that is, if the masses complain that it is not appropriate.
Mr Jimmy Haguma, from the police’s cybercrimes department, cautioned women to desist from clinking on any link that they come across, saying many of those are from hackers who can easily access their data. He also urged them not to accept any friend requests from people they do not know and to report to police in case they are harassed.