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Cyberbullying rears its ugly head

Cyberbullying rears its ugly head

THE silence of the organisers of arguably the most prestigious annual social event on the national calendar, Miss Namibia, in the wake of the vicious personal attacks on some the contestants on different social media platforms, is deafening.

This week Tuesday, Miss Namibia organisers, clearly lacking in strategy, unveiled the 32 semi-finalists on the road to Miss Namibia 2019 by posting head and shoulder pictures, submitted by the contestants themselves, on social media.

The vile comments that followed, shocked many and revealed yet again the dark side of social media platforms. It is a phenomenon known as trolling and is usually perpetrated by youthful gangs of egomaniacs.

What we witnessed demanded for the organisers of the national beauty pageant to step up and protect, as well as preserve, the dignity of the brave contestants who dared to compete knowing full well that they would be judged on their looks and talent.

Instead, we got silence.

At the time of writing this editorial, the organisers had not released a statement condemning cyberbullying, nor took the liberty to regulate the nasty comments posted on their social media platforms by either deleting them, disabling comments or banning all together those trolls who took it upon themselves to post derogatory remarks about the contestants.

A lack of strategy can never be an excuse for shirking responsibility.

In fact, the only voice we heard on the matter from those in the structures came in the form of current Miss Namibia titleholder, Selma Kamanya, who denounced the attacks on especially the black contestants in videos posted on her personal Instagram account.

“I honestly fail to comprehend that the same people that have been supporting me through my reign and through Miss Universe are the ones castigating and tearing these girls down based on their pictures,” said Kamanya.

Kamanya also revealed that the cyberbullying led to one of the contestants withdrawing from the competition as she could not handle the criticism from uncouth commentators.

“I can’t even imagine how ridiculed and attacked one must feel to actually drop out of a competition at the semi finalist stage which is in itself an actual accomplishment,” she added.

Kamanya, a strong advocate for mental health, said the cyberbullying brings to the fore issues relating to mental health because people are psychologically deteriorating the contestants’ self-esteem, self-worth and self-image.

This incident should be a wakeup call to the organisers to recognise that bullying, including cyberbullying, can have a negative impact on the rights of women and they should, therefore, practice good governance and follow guidelines to respond to bullying in order to mitigate future bullying of Miss Namibia contestants.

The commercialisation of all wonderful ideas like world peace, tolerance and the promotion of humanity are now trampled and neglected by the protectors, who no longer appear to be the gatekeepers, but indeed the enemy at the gate themselves.

We cannot put on our crowns, sashes and smile and wave when our own are under attack.

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