Gender Links Botswana held a roundtable discussion on, ‘Understanding Online Gender Based Violence, Media Freedom and Digital rights in Botswana: Engendering Freedom of Expression.
This was to mark the official launch of a report on the research that was carried out in eight Southern African countries to analyse the prevalence of digitally enabled gender-based violence.
Giving a background on the report, Gender Links, Media Consultant Pamela Dube said legal frameworks to protect women exist but there are challenges in enforcement, tracking, accountability, resources at national and community level.
She said there is a growing trend of increase in OGBV as there is no specific legislation/policy of the offence in existence.
“Frameworks are lacking and do not have sufficient accountability for perpetrators. There are Opportunities in existing policies and laws – that can protect citizens and be used to seek justice for online harms like Cyber Security and Computer Related Crimes Act, Domestic Violence Amendment Act, Film and Publications Act. The most targeted people are women/human rights defenders, activists, female journalists, celebrities, influencers and politicians. There is a need for robust public education and awareness campaign,” said Dube
Officially launching the report, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Communication, Knowledge and Technology, Cecil Masiga said OGBV is normally done by people who know or in a way relate to the victims.
He said there is a digital forensic lab under the care of Botswana Police, which helps to gather evidence that can be used before court.
Masiga said police officers need to be capacitated so that they are not challenged when it comes to prosecuting cybercrime cases.
Gender Commission Board Member, Dr Morena Rankopo said education and awareness has to start at the family unit and parents should teach their children especially boys, how they should treat a girl child.
He said gender based violence is a product of cultural socialisation.
“As a nation from family, neighbourhood, community and society at large need to work together to ensure that we socialise our children to be gender sensitive from a tender age. We owe it to ourselves to begin to monitor the way we speak with our children, the way we draw their attention to inappropriate use of language while they are still young so that they can grow with this respect in them. Patriarchy promotes male heterosexual dominance and devaluation of women and girls as well as sexual minorities,” said Rankopo
Botswana Police Deputy Director, Department of Cyber Forensics Nonofo Dichabe said OGBV victims are reluctant to report and the police sometimes try to find them to open case.
He said they have registered two cases in the past 11 months and it does not translate to what is happening on the cyber space.
“OGBV is a serious concern and it might lead to mental problems. I encourage people to report on behalf of victims in the fight of OGBV. One other thing people must know is that there is no offence called OGBV but it falls under cyber harassment,” said Dichabe