TANZANIA Media Women’s Association (TAMWA) has advised the government, social media companies and civil society organisations to address the effects of online harassment along with providing awareness to the public on the effects of the menace.
The call was made Friday in Dar es Salaam by TAMWA Strategy Manager, Ms Sylvia Daulinge while launching a campaign to End Online Harassment (EOH) among women and girls in the country.
Ms Daulinge, who was speaking on behalf of TAMWA Executive Director, Rose Reuben said the one month campaign dubbed ‘Zuia Ukatili Mtandaoni (ZUMICA)’ literally meaning ‘Prevent Violence Online’ will be conducted in collaboration with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES).
“Online gender-based violence exists within a context similar to what happens in real life. It is just as destructive as offline violence, thus we are asking the government and other stakeholders to strengthen their advocacy efforts,” she said.
Ms Daulinge said despite Tanzania having various laws in place such as Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations of 2020 that prohibit several conducts such as the transmission of obscene content and hate speech, online violence keeps on rising.
She added that the society now lives in virtual and that offline violence has extended to online, which makes it easier for people to commit violence without consequences. Women are the main targets of online violence, especially women with voices such as female journalists and politicians.
“Online harassment can include online bullying, trolling, cyber stalking, defamation and hate speech, public shaming, and identity theft and hacking, amongst other offences. Online violence is a public health issue and the effects are very detrimental. It results in physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm, and erodes self-esteem,” said Ms Daulinge.
According to a report “Free to be online – Girls’ and young women’s experiences of online harassment” published by Plan International in 2020 showed that more than half of surveyed 14,000 girls aged 15–25 in 22 countries including Tanzania had been harassed or abused online.
FES Programme Manager, Ms Anna Mbise said online harassment was deterring many girls and young women from speaking their mind online.
“There have been several efforts in the country to curb the problem that involved government and civil society organisations, our campaign aims at adding strength to efforts that have already begun,” she remarked.
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Leah Mbunda from Dar es Salaam Special Police Zone, Gender and Children desk said this campaign means a lot to the police force.
“The police force has grown to use a variety of tactics to combat this form of violence, including the training of intelligence officers, the introduction of a cybercrime unit that handles such crimes,” she said.