By Abdallah el-Kurebe
A study by the Center for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) has revealed that fear is one of the factors that discourages Internet use by women.
This was disclosed at a Press Conference on Gender-Based Violence Online organized by the Center on Wednesday.
According to the press statement signed by the Programme Assistant (Gender and Internet Advocacy), Maryam Ado Haruna and issued to news men on Sunday, the study carried out in 2017 was “to examine the level of women’s awareness on the term GBVO; identify instances of GBVO in northern Nigeria; find out the impact of GBVO women’s participation online; identify the most commonly used platforms for GBVO and find out whether women in northern Nigeria are conversant with internet safety and security tools.”
It said that GBVO was an act of cybercrime carried out against women to injure their feelings. “This is primarily carried out to injure her feelings, damage her reputation or tarnish her image. In Nigeria and particularly northern Nigeria, much honour and dignity is being attached to a woman in such a way that an injury to her image affects her greatly if compared with how it affects a man. A typical example is in the case of Rahama Sadau, where people accused her of immorality and irresponsibleness, leaving the man they featured together in the video behind,” CITAD explained.
The Centre added that the acts of GBVO include “Unwanted/unsolicited messages; Exposure to indecent materials; Explicit solicitation from other people (e.g of a picture); Posting of pornographic materials; Disclosure of our private life by someone online; Unauthorized exposure of one’s compromised or naked pictures by someone including boyfriend, husband, ex-boy or ex-husband; Threat of exposure by someone; Physical attack arising from online contact or conversation; Lack of privacy; Exposure to the public; identity theft; Identity impersonation and account hacking etc.”
From the study, CITAD observed that gender-based violence was a cross-cutting issue that affects women use of the Internet.
“From the data generated, it is clear that gender-based violence online is one of the cross-cutting issues affecting women’s participation on the internet. The results of the studies have shown that women in northern Nigeria are being subjected to various forms of online violence such as harassments, intimidations and threats, which tend to discourage the use of the internet by the women. This has especially holdback women’s participation online in the northern Nigeria where the culture, tradition, attitude and religion (to some extent) in their originality affect their internet use,” it stated.
CITAD further stated that the study helped the Centre to embark on sensitization of the public on “the importance of the internet to women as well as build the capacity of women on how to use the internet safely.”
The Centre called on governments at all levels to “introduce internet safety and security in the curriculum of Computer Studies at secondary schools; introduce protection of privacy and personal data protection law in the country and ensure the effective implementation of the “Do Not Disturb” policy of the Nigerian Communications Commission, which requires service providers to stop the sending of unsolicited messages by third parties.”
It noted that addressing GBVO was a collective responsibility (ion women, law makers, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), NGOs/CBOs and the Media.