Why Gender Issues should Not Be Trigger For Online Violence

BY Zainab Yetunde Adam 

Tessy sits restless in a corner at home alone. Talking to herself, she wished the passage of time could bury her emotional pains instantly. Much to the contrary. 

She still has to answer all sorts of questions to defend herself and clear the air despite her   destabilized state of mind.

“I kept telling the society that I was unconscious when it happened but only a few believed me,”she said  tearfully.

Tessy 19, was drugged, raped and videoed at a party she was invited to by a Facebook friend. 

“I didn’t know my soft drink was drugged. All I remembered was that I ended up in a room where I was raped”

Tessy had to later received  a video of the perpetrators (her Facebook friends) fiddling with her private parts and having mob sex with her, because  she rejected their second invite to another party, even with a threat to leak the video should she decline. She didn’t show up and they lived out their threat.  

“I was in denial when I saw the video on a WhatsApp status but couldn’t do anything to stop the clips from going viral,” Tessy added.

Tessy is not the only teen who has to battle with online violence for an incident that happened without her consent.

Angel 19, experiences cyber trolling and bullying whenever she talks about ‘women’s right’ or ‘sex and sexuality’ online.

Angel’s reaction stood out when she rhetorically asked “why no women-focused protest had gained that amount of attention and why women who hadn’t come for any rape protest going all out for #ENDSARS Protest”.

“I was insulted and recieved rape and death threats via calls and messages,” she said.

Such backlash tends to limit women’s participation in societal issues which is contrary to the Fundamental Human Rights.

Statistics from the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shows that 1 in 10 women (9.7%) and 1 in 43 men (2.3%) have experienced stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. 

Similarly, 1.3 women (39.7%) and 1 in 2 men (41.1%) have experienced coercive control by an intimate partner in their life. 

To corroborate these statistics, Barka, 21, recalls how a Facebook picture nearly messed up his first academic year in school.

“I was online when I saw my picture in UnimaidGist with a caption, ‘Part one student going for lecture with shorts’ with alot of mockery and sympathising comments on the post”.  Barka explained.

“I dare not go to lectures with such clothes, I didn’t know how the guy took a photo of me and it was hard to wrap my head around it,”she said.

For a 30 years old Usman, the story is slightly different. He posted his picture and a write-up on social media, calling on the National Assembly to rescind the rejection of the 5 gender bills. He was at the protest with Nigerian women asking for the same and decided to take his advocacy online. 

“A friend of mine saw the picture and was disappointed in me advocating for the course, saying ‘so you are in support of women ruling over men and having a say in decision-making positions…?’ They now want to take over the public space too?” Usman said.

Nwankwo, in African Women in Media 2022 cited Davider Kaur saying “Culture is no excuse for abuse”, yet there are still gaps in achieving equal gender representation in Nigeria regardless of discrimination and safety for all. 

We all should practise digital consent and safety for the attainment of a violence free society that strives for equal gender rights.

This report was drafted off interview excerpt from stories collected by Education As A Vaccine (EVA) with funding from LUMINATE

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