Women and Girls Online: Mitigating Risk of Grooming and Abuse; A One Day Workshop - Preliminary Repo
Venue: St Pauls Anglican Church Compound, Ille-epo Busstop, Ajegunle, Ikorodu Road.
Date: 28, February 2015.
Time: 11:30 - 17:30
In attendance: Global Programmes Director, ASHA Empowerment and Development Initiative, Ms. Vweta Chadwick; Operations Supervisor, Sheros Craft Academy, Ms. Pamela Kesiena;Marketing Professiona, Fixed Heart Int'l Coaching Centre, Ms. Aforfem Afobunor; Head, Content & Communications, Development Diaries, Mr Osita Charles Nwankwo; Director, Media and Publicity, Disability Policy Advocacy Initiative, Mrs Emmanuella Akinola, Executive Director, Centre for 21st Century Issues, Barr Titi Akosa and 31 workshop participants aged between 15 - 20.
Facilitators: Executive Director, Centre for 21st Century Issues, Barr Titi Akosa, Director of Media and Publicity, Disability Policy Advocacy Initiative, Mrs Emmanuella Akinola, World Pulse Voices of Our Future Correspondent and Global Programmes Director, ASHA Empowerment and Development Initiative, Ms. Vweta Chadwick.
Leading change has become somewhat easier, as the internet affords users an equal playing field, no matter who or where they are.
The women and girls in Ajegunle are not an exception. More and more of them want to connect and lead change by drawing the worlds attention to some of the practices ongoing in the community, but like many others the world over, they have been bullied and threatened into believing the internet is not where they can be or should be.
This workshop was designed to empower participants with the resources and knowhow to connect safely while introducing them to World Pulse, an online community that fosters mutual growth and safe connectivity.
The topics covered were:
The exciting world of web 2.0 – Social Networking: Harmful or Helpful?
Safety and Security Online with respect to:
Cyberstalking, Harassment and Cyberbullying;
Sexting and Revenge pornography;
First Paper Presentation
Mrs Emmanuella Akinola - The exciting world of web 2.0 – Social Networking: Helpful or Harmful?
“Inexperienced users may be lured into sharing sexually explicit photos and videos of themselves, which could cost them their jobs, families and other important public positions in the future…”
Some of the merits of social networking as outlined during her paper presentation were:
Advertising – the internet makes it easy and cost effective for start-up businesses and entrepreneurs to reach clients with goods and services wherever they might be, get immediate feedback from their clients and have the demographics of their clients for targeted marketing.
Sharing information – social media has become a very important tool in information sharing and dissemination. For example, social media helped in spreading timely information about the ebola outbreak in Nigeria, people who rarely listen to news are often logged on to one or more of their social media accounts.
Petitions and Leading Change – petitions started online can now influence laws offline if at least 100,000 people sign it. Human rights abuses never before discovered are now being exposed thanks to social media, whole governments has been toppled with a simple tweet as is evident from the Egypt and Tunisia uprising.
BreakOut Session Question:
How has social networking benefitted you? How might it benefit you more after today?
Second Paper Presentation:
Ms. Vweta Chadwick - Safety and Security Online with respect to:
Cyber Stalking, Harassment and Bullying;
Sexting and Revenge Pornography
“I envision a world where more vulnerable and marginalized women and girls have access to the internet, where these women and girls lead change online and
influence policies, inform national discourses, and sway public opinions online and offline just by being connected. But I will not dream this world into being, a moment before every woman, every girl is equipped with the know how to protect herself from reprisals.”
Cyber Stalking, Harassment and Bullying:
Women and girls can become victims of online stalking, harassment and bullying, sometimes for the same reasons they fall victims offline –
a) because they are women and girls,
b) because many online spaces are considered male dominated arenas;
c) because they have a strong voice that they intend to use to bring about change in their community,
d) because they refuse to fit into gender stereotypes and gender assigned roles and because by their actions or lack thereof, they are speaking out against patriarchy .
some of the protective measure women and girls can take online are:
a) choosing a gender neutral profile name and photo;
b) posting and commenting anonymously;
c) not sharing personal information such as home address, school address, email address, names and contact details of family members online;
Sexting and Revenge Pornography
Many women and girls have made the honest mistake of having sexually explicit materials of themselves in their electronic devices. Others may have sent these out via texting (sexting) or other electronic means to trusted friends and/or acquaintances.
In many instances, these materials has been distributed online without their consent by an aggrieved ex, or a total stranger who may have had unauthorized access to these devices and gotten hold of these materials without permission from the owner.
Some persons bent on maligning ones reputation may go further, by photoshopping the face of their victim into another sexually explicit photo of another person entirely, often getting almost the same result as an original photo.
Women and girls on the forefront of change may be more at risk of falling victim, if only to dissuade them or discredit them In the publics eye.
Some precautions that can be taken are:
a) Refrain from taking and or sharing nude or sexually suggestive/explicit photos of you;
b) Protect your electronic devices with passwords, screen locks etc;
c) Never leave your electronic devices unattended, more so those with sensitive materials;
d) Get a reliable antivirus for your electronic devices to lock hackers and spywares out
of your privacy;
e) Google yourself from time to time to check if any one has posted questionable contents about you online and if that were the case, seek legal counsel immediately
Connecting with family and friends – social media makes it possible to keep in touch wiyh family member and friends one hasn’t seen physically in years, helping strengthen friendship and family ties.
Despite its numerous advantages, the internet and social media also has disadvantages. For example, naïve and inexperienced users may be lured into sharing sexually explicit photos and videos of themselves, which could cost them their jobs, families and other important public positions in the future.
Others may give away personal information of themselves such as home addresses, personal telephone numbers to their social media contacts who may intend to harm them.
Breakout Session Question: What scares you the most about going online and how might this paper help overcome that fear?
Third Paper Presentation,
“Sharing our stories of violence and discrimination based on our gender gives us power over our abusers, doing so online may inspire and encourage other victims the world over to speak out about their abusers and join in the fight to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.”
Starting petitions online and getting as many people as possible to sign can influence policies and laws offline;
Acting as whistleblowers in our communities with the intention of ending VAW and GBV by drawing the attention of the world to such practices;
By not reposting, sharing or circulating in anyway, videos online of women being stripped naked or being raped (if there is no market/audience for such materials, perpetrators may be deterred from carrying such acts);
By not shaming and blaming the victims of VAW and GBV.
Breakout Session Question: How can you innovatively bring about change to your community using the internet?
Women and girls living in underserved communities, such as Ajegunle where one of ASHA’s Initiatives - Empowering Women of the Future (EWOF) project has been running for the last three years are often doubly marginalized.
First because they are women and girls, Secondly, because they live in areas not easily accessible to outside intervention.
These women and girls, though in dire need of information, intervention and resources are unable to access these, because many of these opportunities are either only known to and easily accessed by those who live in the nicer part of towns or are too expensive for them to afford. More workshops like this should be targeted at slums and undersourced communities to ensure that every, woman and girl is empowered with the information they need to become change agents.
There is a need to carry out an extensive survey on the number of women and girls have internet access, what purpose they use it for and to ascertain how safe they feel online;
Women and girls in the grassroots should be trained on the use of internet to enable them connect safely;
Most importantly, The fight against #VAW and #GBV online may never be won if laws are not revised or created to expand the scope of current laws prohibiting #VAW and #GBV. Perpetrators need to know that the full weight of the law will come down on them if they carry out any of these crimes whether online or offline.