By Silvia Tsitsi Mukwindidza
The internet has become an integral part of our lives, but it can also be a dangerous place for women and girls. Gender-based online violence (GBOV) is a serious problem that can have a devastating impact on victims. It can include a wide range of behaviours, such as online harassment, cyberstalking, doxing, and revenge porn. GBOV can have a significant impact on victims’ mental and physical health, as well as their ability to participate in online spaces.
Raising awareness of GBOV is essential to protecting victims, challenging stereotypes, and creating safer online spaces. By making people aware of GBOV, we can encourage them to report it and hold perpetrators accountable. We can also work to change the way that online platforms respond to GBOV, making it easier for victims to get help and to have their experiences taken seriously.
One way to protect victims of GBOV is to raise awareness of their rights and the resources available to them. This can be done through educational campaigns, media coverage, and personal stories. It is also important to challenge the stereotypes that contribute to GBOV, such as the belief that women are “asking for it” if they participate in online spaces. By raising awareness of these stereotypes, we can help to change the way that people think about GBOV and make it more likely that victims will be believed and supported.
Another way to protect victims of GBOV is to challenge the stereotypes that contribute to this violence. For example, the stereotype that women are “asking for it” if they participate in online spaces can make victims less likely to report GBOV. By raising awareness of these stereotypes, we can help to change the way that people think about GBOV and make it more likely that victims will be believed and supported.
Creating safer online spaces
Raising awareness of GBOV can also help to create safer online spaces for everyone. By making people aware of the issue, we can encourage them to report GBOV and to hold perpetrators accountable. We can also work to change the way that online platforms respond to GBOV, making it easier for victims to get help and to have their experiences taken seriously.
GBOV can take many forms, including:
- Online harassment: This includes sending unwanted messages, making threatening or abusive comments, or posting embarrassing or private information online.
- Cyberstalking: This involves following or tracking someone online, often with the intent to intimidate or frighten them.
- Online threats and abuse: It entails making threats of violence or harm, or using abusive language.
- Sexual harassment and abuse: It is evidenced by sending explicit or unwanted images or videos, or demanding sexual favours.
GBOV can have a significant impact on victims’ mental and physical health. It can lead to anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and even suicide. It can also make it difficult for victims to meaningfully participate in online activities, such as online discussions
The good news is that there are things that can be done to raise awareness about GBOV and prevent it from happening. Here are a few tips:
- Talk about GBOV: The first step to preventing GBOV is to talk about it. Talk to your friends, family, and colleagues about the issue. Share stories of GBOV survivors and educate people about the different forms of GBOV.
- Use social media: Social media can be a powerful tool for raising awareness about GBOV. Share information about the issue on your social media accounts and use hashtags to connect with other people who are working to prevent GBOV.
- Report GBOV: If you experience GBOV, report it to the appropriate authorities. This could include the police, your school, your employer, or even the closest person you can think of like your friend. Reporting GBOV can help to hold perpetrators accountable and can also help to prevent other people from being victimized.
There are also a number of organizations that are working to raise awareness about GBOV and prevent it from happening. Here are a few of these organizations:
The National Center for Victims of Crime: This organization provides resources and support to victims of GBOV.
End Violence Against Women International: They work to end violence against women and girls around the world.
Cybersmile: Provides support to victims of online harassment and abuse.
By raising awareness about GBOV, we can help to create a safer online environment for everyone. We can also help to prevent victims from feeling isolated and alone. If you or someone you know has experienced GBOV, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help.
- The UN Women website on gender-based violence: https://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/facts-and-figures
- The National Sexual Assault Hotline: https://www.rainn.org/
- The Cybersmile website: https://www.cybersmile.org/
- CIPESA: https://cipesa.org/2022/03/combating-online-violence-against-women-and-girls-towards-a-digital-equal-world/
Gender-based online violence is a serious problem, but it is one that can be prevented. By raising awareness about GBOV and by supporting victims, we can help to create a safer online environment for everyone.
If you or someone you know has experienced GBOV, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help. There are many resources available to support victims of GBOV. You are not alone.