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Cebbie Koks Nyasego


Cebbie Koks Nyasego: Thoughts On Online Violence

A daring and candid perspective on online gender based violence.

BY Beryl Karimi-La Patrona

Feb 01, 2023, 09:05 AM

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Cebbie Koks Nyasego
With the growth of the manosphere, male violence has been replicated in online spaces in the same fashion it is usually dispensed offline. Acts of violence such as cyberbullying, online defamation campaigns, harassment, and revenge porn have become quite the norm to the point where many women especially journalists and writers are scared of expressing their thoughts because of the precedented violence that follows after.

Elseba Awuor Kokeyo, also known as Cebbie on social media, is a Kenyan youth leader, mentor, and entrepreneur. She is the Founder of Virtual Twenty One, a private limited liability company specializing in public relations, marketing, and advertising. 

Presently, she serves as Head of PR and Administration at Saroni & Stevens Advocates, a full-service law firm located at Williamson House, Upperhill, Nairobi. 

She also holds a Master's Degree in International Relations from the United States International University-Africa (USIU-A) and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Communication and Public Relations, from Moi University, Eldoret.

I had a sit down with Cebbie Koks Nyasego, and talked about the nature of gendered online violence, who perpetuates it, and what can be done about it. How can we defend women's freedom of expression which seems to be diminishing every other day due to the violence they face when they express themselves? 

A: When did you join social media?

Cebbie: I joined social media in 2014.

Q: How have the dynamics of social media engagement changed since then?

A: There have been notable changes from an innovation perspective to usability. It's more user-friendly hence heightening risks and opportunities.

Q: Can you expound on that using relevant examples?

Cebbie: On one hand, the technological revolution has turned our world into a global village where people can easily connect, share, and engage in conversations about issues that concern them as well as build businesses to enhance empowerment and personal development or growth. 

On the other hand, the more user-friendly it is, the deeper the cybercrime crisis is. For instance, bullying, fraud, etc.

Q: You have been a victim of cyberbullying on numerous occasions on social media. Do you remember when it started?

Cebbie: I first had my share in 2017 when they linked my photos to a notable figure.

Blogs started picking everything I posted. Initially, it was all positive and then it turned sour.

All the praises were met with aggression, and snide remarks, and now suddenly, anybody and everybody knew me had something to say. 

If I can remember, in case you may need to know, the majority were about my appearance, sexuality, societal biases, and body autonomy.

Many said I wasn't beautiful while others said I was opinionated about things that didn't sit well with men. The majority published unverified information which went unchallenged and was taken as gospel truth. 

Q: Why did you let the lies go unchallenged?

Cebbie: Normally, silence is considered golden, which is the route I took to avoid fueling the lies. But, today life has taught me to comb through, and know what to challenge and what not to challenge. 

Q: How can women tackle the consequences of online gender-based violence in terms of their emotional health? How do you deal with all that without getting broken?

Cebbie: Firstly as women, we must build a community of cyber kindness to meet the bullying at its level. 

Secondly, engender conversations that rethink and reshape hypersexualized social and gendered norms, societal balance, body shaming, and propaganda. 

Thirdly, the self-esteem and self-worth of an individual are inside jobs. Work on what you want to feed yourself with, and who you want to read, and focus on what builds you, enhances your well-being and rejuvenates your mind. 

Q: How are you able to navigate online violence as a woman and especially one who is in the political sphere too? 

Cebbie: I have personalized and conditioned myself to what works and gives me peace.

a) Blocking anything that interferes with my peace. 
b) Being around those who do not share anything hurtful. I don't see evil, hear evil, or see evil. 
c) I work on personal growth and development and I make sure I am content with where I am going without seeking social media validation. 
d) I don't follow gossip groups, I don't know who they troll and I deliberately unfollow mean people whether they are mean to strangers or me.  An evil to a stranger has the potential to be evil to you.

Q: Have you ever felt like leaving social media?

Cebbie: Nope! 

I take social media differently. With time, I will only limit its usage.

I learn from it, earn from it and connect with people and the global society. But often, I take a break when I need to complete a project or a deadline. 

I have personalized my social media experience so that if I'm trending and I am online, I don't get to see it.

My friends or people close to me don't even share or discuss unless it's unavoidable.

The WhatsApp groups I am in are equally structured and agenda-driven, so there is no social media gossip. 

Q: Tabloids play a huge part in enabling cyberbullying against women. What can be done about that?

Cebbie: It would be prudent of lawmakers to strengthen the policy around cyberbullying and make sure it is implemented.

Countries such as ours have weak policies and tend to top in cyberbullying because there are no structures to check online violence against women.

There has been a back and forth about The Computer Misuse And Cybercrime Act with claims that it is not specific and leaves lots of loopholes. It is also said that balancing freedom of expression and literal cyberbullying is difficult.

Q: Is the lack of accountability a policy issue, or is the media council also lax in exercising its mandate?

Cebbie: They have both failed. 

The Media Council of Kenya is guided by an accountability policy thus if we have strong policies on the same then we are free to fault them.

Q: How can men help to prevent online violence and create safe spaces for women?

Cebbie: To begin with; men should unlearn and relearn some of the biases they have towards women. Women are people too and they deserve to be treated as humans with opinions, voices, needs, and freedom of expression.

More often than not, the violence meted on women by men is the fear of power imbalance. For example, the majority of women are now running for political positions, breaking the ceilings of economic power to the chagrin of misogyny.

Instead of expressing anger towards women for utilizing their opportunities, men need to unlearn their bias, relearn gender roles, stop objectifying women, and learn that women are people too.

Q: All women have experienced gendered violence on one level or another other and yet they hardly ever hesitate to join men in bullying other women. Why do you think that is so?

Cebbie: For a long time, women were conditioned to follow men and be led by men. It is this conditioning that made women look at men as superior beings and for one to be appreciated or accepted, they will not hesitate to give a helping hand to their master for a sense of security and acceptance. 

Also making a moral appeal to an oppressor is futile and women in older days who tried faced exclusion and isolation plus rejection. Therefore, they then decided to side with the oppressors for favours and special treatment.

Read More: Is The Girl Child Over-Empowered?