Online platforms fuel wave of violence against women

Gender-based violence (GBV) is one of the most widespread and socially tolerated forms of human rights violations.

It is rooted in discriminatory social and cultural norms that make women more susceptible to the vice.

It is a graduated form of violence that can occur in both public and private spheres, including in the digital space.

The prevalence of violence against women continues to rise, with global statistics indicating that about one in three (30 per cent) of women worldwide have been subjected to either physical, sexual or intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.

At the national level, statistics from the Kenya National Demographic Health Survey 2022 indicate that 34 per cent of women in Kenya have experienced physical violence since the age of 15 and that the experience of violence among women increases with age.

Killing of women is on the rise in Kenya, weeks after the annual international campaign on the elimination of violence against women and girls.

Some young women have been killed in guest houses. The circumstances surrounding their deaths have been linked to intimate partner violence and technology-facilitated gender-based violence (TFGBV).

TFGBV is perpetrated against women in online spaces or through digital media. It can take many forms, including incidents that occur entirely online and offline between parties whose meeting was enabled by technology. 

Recruitment, a form of technology-facilitated gender-based violence, has been on the rise on dating sites in Kenya.

It is the use of technology to lure potential victims or to facilitate in-person physical or sexual assault through dating sites and apps.

Dating sites

The rising cases of technology-facilitated gender-based violence on dating sites is attributed to the creation of a culture of victim shaming and blaming.

It has also been a contributory factor in the rise of violence against women due to the perception that dating sites fuel online prostitution/sex work. As a result, the victims fail to report such incidences.

For instance, the recent murder of the 24-year-old Starlet Wahu emboldened other women to come forth and report that the suspect, John Matara, had also meted violence on them.

Narrations from these women paint a picture of the gravity of stigmatisation attached to reporting gender based violence cases.

The culture of victims’ silence/stigmatisation is also attributed to the criminalisation and societal perception of sex work.

Criminalisation consistently undermines sex workers’ ability to seek justice for crimes against them.

As a result, it harms their dignity by denying them their right, as workers, contrary to the provisions on human dignity enshrined in the Maputo Protocol and the Constitution of Kenya.

-Ms Kemunto is an advocate of the High Court

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