We live in a world where we are now almost able to do everything online that we normally do offline. The same rights that apply offline have been argued that they apply online in a similar manner with little to no modifications.
On September 2, 2013; I read that “YouTube Removes Feminist ‘Blurred Lines’ Parody By Auckland University Students”. YouTube however changed their mind and the video is back online after public outcry:
In my Opinion, The Feminist ‘Blurred Lines’ Parody by Auckland University Students is not offensive. The video is only a repetition of the Original video only this time with Ladies playing the role of Men in the Original Video. In the Parody, Adelaide Dunn, Olivia Lubbock and Zoe Ellwood have interesting lyrics, “If you want to get nasty, just don’t harass me. You can’t just grab me. It’s a sex crime. We don’t want it, it’s chauvinistic.”
The action of removing the parody was wrong, and one can almost relate YouTube’s actions to those of hackers who shut down Adria Richard’s employer’s website after she tweeted a photo of two men making sexist comments at PyCon, a conference for Python coders in the United States.
One can read more about Adria Richard here and here: “Her story, though devastating, is unfortunately neither shocking nor unique to the thousands of women technologists around the world. The increasingly dominant role of technology as well as the shifting dimension of the internet into a social space have brought forth new forms of familiar attacks against women for the most basic of actions – from self-expression to calling out sexist behaviour, from taking on leading positions to advocating for gender justice.”
Robin Thicke and His Song “Blurred Lines has created a lot of debate such as as these articles: “Top Ten Interesting Things About Robin Thicke and His Song “Blurred Lines,” With a Special Focus on the Various Sexual, Cultural, Legal, and Racial Controversies It Has Spawned”, “10 Songs Whose Sexual Politics Are More Troubling Than “Blurred Lines”, “How to Talk With Your Sons About Robin Thicke”, “I Know You DON’T Want It – The Ban on ‘Blurred Lines’ and Why Other Universities Should Do the Same”, “Blurred Lines: the most controversial song of the decade”, “Thicke: “Blurred Lines” intended to be derogatory towards women” , “‘Robin Thicke hate is heavy here’ at #SlutWalk 2013 [photos]” and “Reading between the “Blurred Lines”- what’s wrong with Thicke’s ‘song of the summer’
The video has also been banned by various student unions such as Edinburgh, University College London, among other Universities.
The Original Video was also removed by YouTube but it went back online. After these actions, one can only wonder what role do Intermediaries have in prevention of gender based violence.
3 things to do to prevent Technology-related forms of gender based violence:
1. The need to involve more men in Campaigns:
There are various campaigns (such as those carried out by APC) going on to build capacity of women on issues related to online Violence Against Women but involving more men ensures that the efforts carried out have a wider impact in the society.
Last year, British Prime Minister stated that he is a male-feminist and this sure did create a great deal of debate which was a boost for feminists around the world. If all of us who are involved in the campaign against gender based violence involve more men who are influential in our societies we could have greater change in the attitudes of our people.
2. The need to clearly define the role of Online intermediaries:
There is a lot of debate going on here and here among other places about the role of intermediaries and violence against women online and the views are very diverse and most arguments make a lot of sense. My fellow author at Global Voices Online, Jillian York, is of the opinion that “Facebook Should Not be in the Business of Censoring Speech, Even Hate Speech.” In my opinion, Intermediaries have a role to play but this should not be done at the expense of freedom of expression, they should carry out a case by case analysis since even freedom of expression is not absolute as there are various limitations to it.
3. The need to train service delivery institutions on Online #VAW
In my 2nd year of Law School, I worked on a research paper on workplace sexual harassment Law in Kenya. I was disappointed to find out in this article, “Kinyuru Munuhe, ‘Top Cops face jail over Sexual harassment’ The People, 23 August, 2013, 1” that Sexual harassment is a big problem in Kenyan Workplaces and this does not only affect civilians but also Law enforcement Officers who are supposed to be arresting sexual offenders. The Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA) Chairman Maina Njeru disclosed that sexual harassment against female officers in the police service has become a major problem with sex being used to influence transfers, promotions, deployment and general posting.
This has also affected Kenya’s Judiciary as seen in an article here.
There is thus an urgent need to train service delivery institutions such as the Police, the Judiciary and Service Delivery Institutions about Online Gender Based Violence. This can be done through inclusion of prevention against online GBV in their training sessions.