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Lawyer urges women to report online GBV

by Staff reporter
22 May 2024 at 10:31hrs | Views
Legal practitioner Lizwe Jamela says it is important for victims of gendered online violence to report their cases and seek justice to deter perpetrators from causing more harm.

Jamela was speaking at a podcast hosted by the Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe, in collaboration with CITE on gendered online violence. (https://www.facebook.com/share/v/74ftFntoH2DSVw1Y/?)

Jamela buttressed that women should not feel defeated when they are subjected to online violence. Still, they should seek justice to encourage fellow victims to speak out and simultaneously deter perpetrators from committing similar crimes.

"Women should not feel like they are defeated and cannot fight online violence. Some organizations can help them, that deal with legal issues and that help women specifically. They can be assisted as far as filing reports at police stations. There is adequate support system that they can receive. The law is there to protect them," Jamela said.

"Women must not suffer in silence, they must speak out. If what happens to you is taken head on and the perpetrators is convicted and sentenced, it can actually send out a strong message to other perpetrators that they are not above the law. This can also help to encourage other victims to seek justice for themselves.

"If the victim decides to do a civil suit, they could win the cases. The media can pick that up and report on the compensation that the victim may have received and that would encourage other victims to follow suit and would also deter perpetrators from committing such offences."

Jamela emphasised the importance of solidarity for men to stand with women in the fight against online violence.

"It is important for men to stand up for women and speak out against gendered violence so that women can be protected. If women are left out to fight for themselves, they may not be taken seriously but if men can join in the fight too they can advocate for a positive change," he said.

Ward 17 councillor, Sikhululekile Moyo, who is a victim of online violence, narrated that she was accused of corruption and the issue was picked by media outlets.

She explained that the main challenge of being a victim of online violence is that when the media gets to pick up and run stories with untrue narratives, taking them back would be very difficult.

"By the time you gather evidence and facts to counter the misinformation it would be too late. That damage would already have been done. And at times none of the media outlets would be willing to publish your side of the story," she said.

"Imagine the challenge that I face as a female politician, I have been smeared with allegations of corruption. What do you think will happen to me when I want to do something different from politics, with such digital footprints. Trying to seek justice for myself will not remove all the misinformation that has been spread about me."


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