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CWDF calls for protection of women from online harassment, abuse

CWDF calls for protection of women from online harassment, abuse

TANZANIA Civil Society Organizations Women Directors Forum (CWDF) has called for better regulations to protect women from online harassment and abuse.

CWDF Chairperson, Anna Kulaya said online or technology-facilitated Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is a form of gender injustice and discrimination that takes place in online spaces that have affected many people therefore it is high time to take appropriate measures to ensure everyone is safe.

"Stalking, harassment, bullying, and unsolicited pornography are examples of this sort of GBV." "We call on the Tanzania Police Force and the Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA) to keep a close eye on culprits propagating such messages and take strong action against them," she said in Dar es Salaam yesterday.

Ms Kulaya stated that there have been acts of violence and bullying against women leaders on social media across the country for the past three weeks and that the time has come for the authorities to take action.

She indicated, for example, that there have been unpleasant comments and statements directed toward President Samia Suluhu Hassan for her role in the filming of the Royal Tour for several weeks.

"This not only lessens our leader's dignity, but it also weakens the integrity of our nation, which is founded on the ideas of equality and respect for all," Ms Kulaya said.

Aside from that, she said that some social media users began insulting Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Tulia Ackson and CHADEMA's 19 Special Seats Members of Parliament. These MPs were in a political crisis with their party for nearly a year and a half, and on May 11, 2022, they were dismissed from their party.

"In addition to accepting CHADEMA's decision, the CWDF also respects these 19 MPs' decision to pursue their legal rights in court." Bullying the Speaker on the internet because of the legal definition she provided is an insult to our leaders and goes against Tanzanian principles,"

She added," Similarly, the insults and abuse directed against these 19 MPs on the internet disrespect not only women but all individuals who value human rights, particularly women's rights. Such internet fabrication tarnishes their image,"

The Cybercrime Act of 2015, according to Ms Kulaya, outlaws the sending or broadcast of abusive texts, as well as the use of a person's voice or image to insult others. Similarly, the country's regulations, such as section 135 (3) of the Penal Code, expressly declare that it is illegal to humiliate a woman by making defamatory statements, voices, gestures, or acts, or invading her privacy.

The Forum also asks the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties to keep providing guidelines and education on the politics of tolerance and mutual respect, as well as warnings when parties allow their supporters to humiliate and undermine the dignity of others, particularly women, she said.

"We urge Tanzanians to focus on the effective use of social media that is productive and that respects human rights, the laws of the land and the equality of each of us,".

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Author: HILDA MHAGAMA

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