Online attacks on Koome call for heightened GBV war
What you need to know:
- In 2018, Kenya prohibited cyber harassment through the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act, which, in part, prescribes it as indecent or grossly offensive communication.
- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation considers cyber-violence against women as “a problem that urgently needs to be addressed if the Internet is to remain an open and empowering space for all".
Chief Justice (CJ) Martha Koome has for the past week been a victim of heightened cyber-harassment, depicting a reality that all women, regardless of social status, are vulnerable to online violence.
In 2018, Kenya prohibited cyber harassment through the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act, which, in part, prescribes it as indecent or grossly offensive communication.
CJ Koome has suffered offensive attacks on Twitter following the decision on the presidential petition on September 5. The court unanimously upheld President William Ruto's victory.
On Monday, the Judiciary, in a statement, raised concern over social media attacks targeting judges of the Supreme Court.
Twitter users made sexist and misogynistic posts against her, in breach of the law. The posts cannot be paraphrased or reposted as they defy Nation Media Group’s editorial policies.
As per the 2018 law, a person found guilty of cyber-harassment is liable for a Sh20 million fine or imprisonment of not more than 10 years. Of greatest concern is that CJ Koome exemplifies the rising risk to technology-facilitated abuse against women.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation considers cyber-violence against women as “a problem that urgently needs to be addressed if the Internet is to remain an open and empowering space for all".
A joint 2020 study by Web Foundation and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts established that online gender-based violence (GBV) was getting worse.
Yet law enforcement agencies and the courts are failing to take appropriate actions in cases where digital technologies are used to commit GBV crimes, found a 2014 Web Foundation Web Index, which analysed policy and institutional responses to online GBV in 86 countries across the world.
In a recent interview with Siasa Place executive director Nerima Wako, she encouraged aggrieved women to report such cases. Last March, the organisation, together with others, launched a #HeshimuDada campaign.
The initiative included a short video that had First Lady Rachel Ruto, outgoing Gender Cabinet Secretary Margaret Kobia, Kirinyaga governor Anne Waiguru and Githunguri Member of Parliament Gathoni wa Muchomba calling on the public to desist from any form of violence against women, whether online or offline.
Ms Wako said: “The campaign has been impactful as the conversations on respecting women have become frequent online.”
According to the Web Foundation, relentless harassment silences women and deprives the world of their opinions and ideas, yet their input is core to inclusive development.