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How Can You Protect Girls And Women Online?

We need to end cyberbullying.

BY Agnes Amondi

Mar 07, 2023, 03:04 PM

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Cyberbullying has seemingly been normalised. In a day and age where you can easily hide behind the keyboard, open a pseudo account and say anything you want, the vice has skyrocketed to unimaginable proportions.
One of the nightmares that tech developers and founders may not have envisioned dealing with is cyberbullying. Whilst they have put measures in place to curb that, by and large, they have fallen short. 

Asking online users to report an account hasn’t stopped anyone from opening another and continuing the attacks. It hasn’t led to the arrest of anyone or if it has, it’s only been a small number of people who’ve actually been identified because they perhaps use their real identity to malign others. 

All the campaigning that’s been done by various organisations, whilst important, has also led to very little action. As soon as something happens, everyone is on it and the moment something else comes up, we move on and forget. 

The data does not do us any favour.

According to a report released by the African Development Bank, 70 per cent of women have been victims of online violence. The study further shows that women are 27 times more likely to be harassed than men and that one in five women in the country has suffered from online bullying.
The most common types of cyberbullying we face revolve around the sharing of sexual content for example leaking of intimate images.
Is the situation beyond our control or can we still salvage it?

Avoid Participating In Cyberbullying.

They say that prevention is better than cure. When it comes to online bullying, the safest way to mitigate the practice is by simply not taking part in it. Be mindful of the trends that you participate in. If you notice that it is meant to ridicule someone, don’t circulate the meme further, use the hashtag or engage in the discussion. 

You might be asking yourself how this will prevent the problem as others are doing it. Well, it all starts and ends with an individual. Beyond that, you need to share this information with your friends and other people. The ripple effect of this is what will eventually help us curb the menace.

Speaking Up Against Online Bullying.

Public figures are susceptible to online violence. In fact, many people will happily tell you the number of high-profile individuals the infamous Kenyans On Twitter (KOT) lot has hounded. 

Recently, Senator Gloria Orwoba said that she is contemplating closing her Twitter account after she was bullied for talking about periods. Kirinyanga Governor Dr Anne Waiguru has also been a victim of online violence as has been youth leader, mentor, and entrepreneur Elseba Awuor Kokeyo also known as Cebbie Koks Nyasego.

To that effect, Governor Waiguru is taking the bull by its horn. She launched a campaign dubbed “Stop Cyberbullying Now” to protect women in the online space. 

Steer Clear Of Conversations That Are Weaponised Against Women.

We love our Twitter threads, YouTube commentaries that echo our views and following people just to tear into their life. Some of the people creating trending conversations are clearly abusive in their approach and largely encourage violence against women. 

They harbour and promote patriarchal views in the name of enlightening fellow men. They are bitter that the world has changed and that women are now doing more than just giving birth. If you are serious about ending the violence against women in the online space, you need to distance yourself from such communities.  

Promote Meaningful Communities. 

The beauty of the online space is that we can join spaces that help us learn, grow and become better. Instead of always jumping in when people are being harassed, why don't you use the same vigour and energy to talk about the people who are driving meaningful conversations

Let’s toot their horn and share a different side of the internet. We often say that social media is not bad, It is how you use it that makes it good or bad. It is time we amplify those who are doing good in order to shrink those who are abusing the platforms. 

Give Women The Opportunity To Express Themselves.

In the real world, we say ladies first but in online spaces, this doesn't apply at all. Our voices are muzzled by men who tear us down just because we have different opinions.

When we make it clear that we don't agree with them, they shift the conversation and start attacking our appearance. They even pull images of our next of kin, circulate them and make it known that they will stop at nothing to make our lives unbearable.

We can always agree to disagree but we want this to be done in a respectful manner. If you can't stand it when people disagree with you then you have no business engaging in other people's spaces online.

Block The Bullies.

You might not be the one being attacked but by blocking the bully you are stopping their profile from being seen by your community. In turn, when other people block this person, they are narrowing the bullies’ target.