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UMWA mentors female politicians, journalists and activists on digital security

21 March 2024, 5:27 pm

By Byamukama Alozious

Over time online violence against women has been increasing, this has led to many effects ranging from trauma to death among many women who use social platform

According to the study by Women of Uganda Network -WOUGNET, Jinja has had the highest cases of online gender-based violence (GBV). The research which was conducted in 2020, revealed that 99.7% of females were affected by online GBV as compared to 0.3% of males. The Institute of Development Studies indicates that 16-58% of women have experienced technology facilitated gender based violence.

Statistics from the Ministry of Gender reveals that the government is losing a total of sh18.3b in healthcare costs to deal with domestic violence and its effects. Relatedly, Uganda Police is spending sh19.5b while local councils are spending sh12.7b on curbing the problem.

In the efforts to prevent the vice, Uganda Media Women Association UMWA has conducted mentoring sessions for over 40 female journalists, women councilors and activists to get knowledge so as this violence is put to an end.

During the training, Namata Brenda, the in charge communications and advocacy highlighted on how the social media has turned Ugandan women besides their statuses. “The platform must not bear any discrimination against any women, every woman knows what they want to use with their social media platforms, when, how and what to put, why are we attacked?” Namata said.

The training which was supported by WACC with the aim of equipping knowledge and skills on digital safety and security for female journalists, women leaders and activists and lines with UMWA’s strategic plan of strengthening responsiveness of media towards gender equality and inclusion 2020-2027.

Brenda Namata, UMWA

Focusing on digital security, the participants were equipped with digital security skills in order to protect their data. Information is licked into due to small errors which includes weak passwords, connecting to every link with face promises ‘’why would you use your date of birth as the password’’ Cotilda Babilekere, Gender officer at UMWA

She emphasized that passwords must be strong with different characters and pointed out that they should resist from sharing the low data and private documents to the public.

The participants complained and a few gave testimonies against Facebook and TikTok being the common platforms where the users violate women. The common forms of online violence included backlash, sexual harassment and cyber attacks

Immaculate Owomugisha, an activist said she had abandoned using TikTok due to the negative comments that were coming after her posts. “I fear to post my opinion on it, I do not like to be abused by the people, it hurts me,” Owomugisha said

Brenda Namata further pointed out that some clauses in the Computer Misuse Act breaches the rights of people on using social media which equality affect women who would want to use it for many reasons.

Rights activists, journalists and politicians have faulted the new law on computer misuse, arguing that it could curtail press freedom and freedom of speech and expression.

Brenda told participants to hold government accountable to implement the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that includes civil and political rights such as the right to life, liberty, free speech and privacy, economic, social and cultural rights, like the right to social security, health and education and Uganda has got the obligation to implement it since Uganda is a signatory.

‘’How come when it’s about racism, the perpetrators are easily identified but when women are abused nothing happens?’’ Aloyo Omega from FIDA Uganda asked.

Despite of the online violence persisting, government has registered some progress which includes passing Domestic Violence Act 2010 which commits to promote rights of women including women’s full and equal dignity of the person with men, provision of the facilities and opportunities necessary to enhance the welfare of women to enable them to realize their full potential and advancement, and criminalizing any form of violence.