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From the Editor
During the decades it has been in use, the internet has been both a blessing and a curse. A number of examples will suffice. The internet has broadened our horizons by opening doors to the kinds of knowledge that would have been very difficult, if not impossible, for us to have access to before its advent. It has strengthened our hands in terms of our awareness about legislation, both national and supranational, that relates to our rights. It has given us voice, so we now can speak freely from outside the barriers of the traditional media. Using the internet, one can tackle issues that affect women. Women can also get empowered through seeking out important information, for example about markets for their products, or through leveraging the internet as a tool to alert society to incidents of girls and women’s rights violations.
However, the internet has its downside, too. It has created opportunities for the commission of a host of vices, including, among others, cyber bullying, cyber stalking and hacking. There have been incidents where girls’ and women’s privacy has been violated for instance via the internet, mostly through the posting of their nude images online. This has affected not only celebrities and other well-known women but also others whom few people wouldn’t have heard about if they had not been victims of online violation of girls’ and women’s rights. Women have also been stalked and abused in other forms on the internet.
However, the existence of laws such as the Computer Misuse Act and the Ant-Pornography Act has not afforded the kind of robust protection that the women expect. This is because of the complexity of the laws, which do not lend themselves to easy interpretation, on one hand and on another because of flippancy, and sometimes ignorance – on the part of the police. Society is also complicit, frequently blaming the female victims of cybercrime instead of calling the perpetrators to account. There is also the element of patriarchy, which makes it difficult for women to navigate some of the online spaces without fear of a backlash.
However, not all is lost. The progress that has so far been made can be built on to make further headway. The long-term goal, which is to make cyberspace safe for everyone, can be achieved by sensitising society to the need for girls and women’s online security and by involving all the stakeholders in the quest for this security.
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About this series
ARISE magazine features varying issues around women and development in Uganda. Whether women wearing uniform, working as farmers, or holding political offices: We review the trends and challenges women face in Uganda. The magazine has been published in cooperation with Action for Development since 1990.