THE Women rights online report was today officially launched in the Capital by the First Lady of the Republic of Namibia, Monica Geingos.
Geingos noted that the report is to ensure that there is a safe online environment that protects women’s digital rights.
Geingos added that cybercrime cases have opened eyes to the structural challenges faced in processing Gender-based Violence (GBV) cases, which she said are exacerbated by the lack of appropriate legislation and training.
“This is why we dedicated significant resources to online violence, particularly against adolescent girls and young women. We have held dialogues at secondary schools with learners on online violence and the legal implications for both perpetrator and victim,” said Geingos.
These school and youth interventions lead to more cyber-crime of cyberbullying, revenge porn, fraud and electronic harassment, she added.
According to Geingos, learners are focused on humiliating each other on WhatsApp groups and Instagram pages.
“They would post videos and stories of the sexual activities and any embarrassing content of one another. They counselled many, many cases of anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicidal ideation due to these WhatsApp or Instagram groups. Some of the cases led to real life physical abuse,” she said.
The lead researcher, Nashilongo Gervasius Nakale, said that the Namibian police and its Women and Child protection Unit, have not received any training on ICT-based violence against women.
Nakale noted that there is no law criminalising online cyber violence and that usage of existing laws to curb cyber violence has surfaced in the past, bringing little to no justice to victims.
Nakale added that 70% of Namibian school have no access to the internet, and that this inequality makes digital education upmarket a challenge.
The Harambee Prosperity Plan targeted 80% broadband connection and usage in all schools to allow e-learning by 2020.
A 2005 ICT Policy in Education previously faced implementation challenges.
Additionally, data on women in technology, engineer, and research and development field has not been collected.
In many African countries, online violence against women has been on the rise, but countries have not been able to deal with it because there was no specific legislation to address such problems.
Government and a few civil society organisations and private companies provide information on legal rights, sexual and reproductive health rights and services through internet ICT platforms, but to a very little extent.
Where information is available, it is largely about program reporting that is not updated regularly and is not easily accessible as only about 15% of women personally use mobile financial services.