Report online abuse, women urged Mrs Nikiwe Ncube-Tshabalala

Mkhululi Ncube, Chronicle Reporter

WOMEN who face abuse in digital spaces have been urged to report such cases to the police as the country now has a law, the Cyber Security and Data Protection Act to protect them, a legal expert has said.

The month of March is dedicated to spotlight women`s social, economic, cultural and political achievements with March 8 set aside as the International Women`s Day (IWD).

This year`s theme, “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality” explores the impact of the digital gender gap on widening economic and social inequalities and the importance of protecting the rights of women and girls in digital spaces as well as addressing online and ICT-facilitated gender-based violence.

Speaking on Friday during the International Women’s Day commemorations organised by Emthonjeni Women’s Forum, lawyer Mrs Nikiwe Ncube-Tshabalala said most people abusing women on digital spaces are people related to them.

“What I have realised with technology assisted gender-based violence is that most of time the perpetrator and the victim are related. This is motivated by a number of factors like revenge, jealous, political agendas, anger, sexual desires, when relationships end. But what is it that you can do, there is now a law, the cyber security and data protection Act. We are supposed to know this law, it establishes institutions that are meant to promote our cyber and data protection like the Cyber Security Centre,” she said.

The lawyer said previously people used to struggle to report cases as there was no specific law to regulate digital abuse. 

Mrs Ncube Tshabalala said despite these developments women still need be careful on what they post on digital media to prevent falling victim to abuse.

“The law tries to cover everyone but the bandwidth is very wide you will find that we still have attacks here and there. We must find ourselves in the safe spaces because some pictures we take can fall on wrong hands and it is even us sometimes sharing wrong pictures by mistake to WhatsApp groups. We may have the law which protects us but the practical aspect of it is our responsibility to know the law and to protect yourself from having your information publicised. Internet does not forget no matter you posted someone by mistake,” she said.

The lawyer said women must also be cautious about what they share on online platforms especially issues of personal nature and must avoid having nudes in the phones. 

Cyber crime

She said some let out too much information of what is happening in their lives which can lead to problems.

“It important at times to know at times how to handle things related to technology facilitated GBV. Sometimes you can reply and do out of context and anger and find yourself in the public domain for something you could have ignored and the public forget about it. There are victims and survivors of technology facilitated GBV and it is motivated by the way people live but sometimes it needs maturity and tolerance,” she said.

She said women need to know how to collect evidence from digital platforms that can be used in court to get convictions. 

Emthonjeni Women`s Forum Programs Manager Ms Plaxedis Moyo said the organisation has a number of activities lined up to educate women on issues related to technology facilitated GBV.

She said they have also commemorated IWD with women and girls in Tsholotsho.

“We commemorated the International Women’s Day with the aim of raising awareness on women’s rights in line with this year’s theme, that is DigitAll: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equity. Our focus was on how women and girls can safely take advantage of digital spaces to economically empower themselves. This month we have another programme lined up in Umzingwane where we will be commemorating IWD through partnering with other development partners in offering GBV services to women,” she said.— @themkhust

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