• A new partnership between the African Development Bank (AfDB), Facebook, the Kenya ICT Authority, Judiciary and the Kenya Police is set to increase awareness on cyber-based gender violence in the country.

    The partnership which was launched in Nairobi, Kenya on Tuesday, March 8, 2016, was part of AfDB’s activities to commemorate International Women’s Day.

    According to the bank, the partnership will build the capacity of the Kenya Police and judiciary to handle gender-based cyber violence.

    Due to lack of adequate data, online violence against women and girls which is rampant in Kenya as in many parts of Africa is not being addressed sufficiently.

    “This is a new area. When we look at cyberspace, it is not something we can say there has been adequate data gathered on,” AfDB’s Special Envoy on Gender, Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, said. “But what we have seen is more cases of women being harassed,” she added.

    The 2014 Kenya Demographic Health Survey (KDHS) indicates that 41 % of women aged between 15-49 years have experienced violence. While cyber violence was not captured as a form of violence under the indicators of the KDHS, cyber violence against women and girls if taken into account could significantly increase this figure, says the United Nations.

    Although ICT had been used positively to achieve development, even improving access in financial services sector, Fraser-Moleketi noted that it had also been used as a medium for cyber bullying and harassment, where people’s personal spaces are being violated. Cyber-stalking, hate speech, wrong use of personal information, all on the increase in Africa, constitute an abuse of technology. They have created a platform where women and girls on the continent feel marginalized and threatened based on their gender, experts say.

    The new partnership seeks to fight cyber violence in Kenya by empowering the police and judiciary on how to handle cyber-crimes; reprimanding perpetrators and protecting victims, drawing from existing and new legislation

    Speaking at the launching event, Zebib Kavuma, UN Women Kenya Country Director said “Sanctions must include supporting justice for victims and prosecuting offenders including supporting consistency in clamping down on users who, through cyberspace, perpetuate violence against women and girls,”

    Commenting on the importance of creating awareness in a bid to stem cyber violence, Akua Gyekye, Facebook’s Public Policy Manager for Africa said such partnerships are vital when it comes to raising awareness, informing people and empowering populations of the available resources.

    The African Development Bank reiterated its commitment to support the government to ensure the new initiative that seeks to fight cyber-crime in Kenya succeeds in its mandate.

    “Through our programs, we will boost measures that counter cyber-crime in order to protect women rights in the cyber world,” said AfDB’s Regional Director for East Africa, Gabriel Negatu.

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