The Fight Against Gender-based Violence Online in Africa is not a Fight Between Men and Women: Lessons on Human Rights From #FIFAfrica18

By Blaise Ndola

My participation in each edition of the Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica) has always been a learning curve in understanding certain issues and topics related to Internet Freedoms in Africa. For the 2018 forum, which was held in Accra, Ghana on September 26-28, I was more interested in participating in discussions and debate on equality and non-discrimination, with a focus on gender-based violence (GBV)

On the issue of the existence of GBV online in Africa, I was delighted to see almost all participants and panelists agree on the prevalence of this phenomenon on the African web. 

Victims response to GBV online

I was surprised to learn that in Africa, like in other parts of the world, the reactions of women victims of online GBV were the same. The most common being to ignore or block the perpetrators – a response that encourages impunity and more abuse. Some justify this reaction to religion, cultural norms or by the desire “not to embarrass loved ones”.

The absence of adequate laws and policies to combat this phenomenon

The gap in denouncing of abuses is a reflection of the absence of legal provisions criminalizing gender-based violence online in Africa. In my country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, there is no law or policy against stalking, revenge pornography or harassment online. This situation also discourages victims from reporting abuses knowing that no satisfactory action will be taken by law enforcement authorities. It is therefore necessary to continue advocacy work for the implementation of laws to protect vulnerable users such as women and children in Africa, while also undertaking sensitization efforts on safe and secure use of the internet and avenues for support for victims of GBV online.

Is GBV online a case of women vs. men?

It is this point that has effectively transformed my approach to GBV online and I hope this has been the case for other participants. With the current trend towards aligning GBV into a fight between men and women, it was important to highlight the issue of proportionality. There are indeed some men who experience online harassment that can be likened to GBV, but the number is insignificant compared to that of women and girl’s victims. The rise of this trend is causing some men to become reticent or hostile in the fight against GBV online leaving women to fight alone.

Going forward, we will work to integrate more men into Rudi International’s advocacy work for women and girl’s empowerment through ICT.

I would like to thank CIPESA and its partners for facilitating my participation at FIFAfric18. The notions learned, the elements of reflection acquired as well as the contacts made at all Forums participated in continue to serve us well in our work.

First Ever Digital Rights Conference held in the DR Congo

For Immediate Release

Goma, November 6, 2018

Rudi International and its partners organized the first ever “Conference on Human Rights in the Digital Age in the Democratic Republic of the Congo”, the Haki Conference, held on Monday and Tuesday in the town of Goma, Eastern Congo.

Covered online with the hashtag #HakiConf2018, this gathering brought together nearly two hundred participants from DRC, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya.

There was no better time to organize such a conference in DRC, a country where most people know little to nothing about their digital rights”, said Arsene Tungali, Executive Director of Rudi International.

Digital rights are violated here very often and there is no platform where citizens can discuss the issue and organize to find a solution. That’s where the Haki Conference comes inhe added.

The wide variety of participant’s background ranging from journalism to activism, business, technology, etc. was a catalyst for meaningful interactions and heated debates.

Our wish would have been to accommodate all the nearly 400 people who applied but we were restrained by the budget and could take only half of that. This is a clear indication that the interest in digital rights is there, hence, the need for more similar events”, explained Arsene, who announced that the event will be an annual rendez-vous in the DRC.

As a pre-event of this inaugural edition, Rudi International’s longtime partner CIPESA organized a workshop on ICT Policy and Advocacy in East and Southern Africa. This was an opportunity for nearly thirty participants to learn about the basics of digital rights and be introduced to the Internet freedom landscape in Africa, etc.

“East and Central Africa is facing numerous challenges that undermine internet freedom yet insufficient work is being done to address these challenges. A shortage of resources, hostile environments for civic actors who promote free expression and good governance as well as repressive laws contribute to these challenges”, said Wairagala Wakabi (Phd), who is the Executive Director of CIPESA.

Accordingly, CIPESA is working to grow the network of individuals and groups that work on advancing internet freedom and building their capacity to engage in digital rights advocacy. This training and the conference in Goma assembled a rich mix of stakeholders – lawyers, journalists, women’s rights activists, private sector actors and state officials – all of whom need to work collaboratively to realize an affordable, inclusive and open internet in Burundi, DR Congo, Rwanda and Uganda”, he concluded.  

Participants signed “The Goma Declaration on Human Rights in the Digital Age” with call to actions and commitments that would make DRC a digital rights friendly country.

Download the full Declaration (in French): #HakiConf2018 – Declaration de Goma.

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To schedule interviews on #HakiConf2018, please, get in touch with Blaise Ndola, ICT Program Manager. Mobile phone and WhatsApp : +243 990961665 (Français et Anglais)

Email: info@rudiinternational.org (Francais et Anglais)

Few photos of the conference can be downloaded from Rudi’s Facebook Page (before they can be shared to a public link) and are to be used only with written permission of Rudi International.

#HakiConf2018 c’est déjà pour demain.

En effet, c’est déjà pour demain.

Nous partageons dans ce message les dernières touches d’information pour vous permettre de mieux vous préparer : notez que nous avons une formation demain dimanche et la conférence qui débute le lundi pour deux jours.

Votre participation à la conférence :

  • Vous vous êtes inscrits, nous avons essayé de faire la sélection et avons notifié ceux qui ont été retenus. Ils ont été contactés par email et ont confirmé leur participation. Veuillez vérifier dans vos emails si vous avez reçu le message avec comme objet : « #HakiConf2018 : Notification de votre sélection pour participation » envoyé par Rudi International.
  • Si vous n’avez pas reçu d’email de confirmation, cela ne veut pas dire que votre dossier n’était pas intéressant, mais parce que nous avions un nombre précis, pour des raisons budgétaires. Vous aurez d’autres opportunités à venir et nous allons garder contact ;
  • Vous avez la possibilité de suivre en ligne via notre Page Facebook et sur Twitter en suivant l’hashtag #HakiConf.

La participation à la formation du Dimanche 4 Novembre

  • La formation sur les « Politiques et le Plaidoyer dans le secteur du numérique » organisée conjointement par Rudi International et notre partenaire CIPESA débute ce Dimanche 4 Novembre 2018 (toute la journée). Les participants ont reçu leurs notifications et sont attendus à Linda Hôtel à partir de 8h30.
  • Si vous n’avez pas reçu de notification quant à ce, merci de ne pas vous présenter. Nous promettons que nous allons organiser d’autres formations dans ce sens et l’on vous tiendra informés.

Collecte des badges pour la conférence

  • Les participants à la conférence qui le désirent peuvent se présenter Dimanche 4 Novembre entre 15 et 17h à Linda Hôtel pour collecter leurs badges et ainsi éviter la queue demain matin ;
  • Le Lundi 5 Novembre 2018, la date du début de la conférence, veuillez vous présenter sur les lieux à partir de 8h pour collecter votre badge qui vous permettra d’avoir accès à la conférence.

Autre annonces :

  • Nous souhaitons un bon voyage a ceux qui viennent d’autres villes de la RDC (comme Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, Kisangani, etc), ainsi que d’autres pays de la region;
  • Veuillez télécharger les documents suivants :

L’Agenda: HakiConf2018 Draft Agenda V3,

Le Code de Bonne Conduite: HakiConf2018 – CODE DE BONNE CONDUITE

La Note Logistique HakiConf 2018- Note Logistique Finale

#HakiConf2018: Les inscriptions s’ouvrent aujourd’hui!

C’est le moment de prendre votre inscription.

Désirez-vous prendre part à la première édition de la “Conférence sur les droits de l’homme à l’ère du numérique en RDC“, #HakiConf2018 ?

Désirez-vous faire partie des discussions sur l’application des droits de l’homme dans ce siècle de l’Internet en RDC et en Afrique ?

Prenez votre inscription aujourd’hui en cliquant sur ce lien (jusqu’au 31 Octobre 2018)

La conférence se tient du 5 au 6 Novembre 2018 à Goma dans la grande salle de l’Hôtel Linda, avec une belle vue sur le Lac Kivu.

Access Now – Rudi : Joint Submission to the UNHRC for the 33rd Session of the UPR 2018 Cycle

The submission

Rudi International and Access Now made a joint submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for the 33rd Session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) 2018 Cycle for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. You can get access to it here: DRC – Submission UNHRC

This submission raises a number of issues related to digital rights in the country as well as few reminders about the number of human rights obligations that the country has signed up to.

The document submitted is composed of the following sections as well as few recommendations at the end :

  1. Domestic and international human rights obligations
  2. Developments of digital rights in the DRC
  3. Violations of access to information and freedom of expression
  4. Violations of the right to privacy

The Haki Conference in DRC

This submission raises some important issues that we will be looking at during our upcoming #HakiConf2018 (the conference on human rights at the digital age in the DRC) to which we kindly invite you to attend.

Please make sure you have registered to our mailing list to receive the latest about the conference (including the registration link that will be shared soon) that happens in Goma (DRC) on November 5-6, 2018. we look forward to welcoming you to the beautiful city of Goma.

You can get access to the submission at the folowing link: DRC – Submission UNHRC.

Rudi Christmas Project 2017

It is that time of the year again when all over the world, people are celebrating the birth of the Son of God among men. This year, we want to remember the birth of Christ as we celebrate Christmas with the children from Rudi Education, their family, and up to 500 more people from their community. Just for a reminder, the large majority of the people we serve are internally displaced persons living in challenging conditions right outside of Goma, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

We delight in bringing joy to this community that has been affected by war and conflict for the longest of the past 23 years. Many of you have contributed from $1 to hundreds of dollars to make this event possible for the past 6 years.

Please join us again today and let’s bring joy and cheer in Lac Vert together by giving right on this page or by going to our Campaign titled Rudi Christmas Outreach on YouCaring.com. Our goal this year is $2,774 for a two-days event reaching out to more than 500 members of the community. Thanks to the contributions of many, we are getting closer to the goal. Please join!

 

Contribution to Rudi Christmas 2017

(The quantity you pick will be multiplied by $10 to compute the total amount of your donation)

$10.00