As the world prepares to commemorate the international day of the Girl child this Sunday on 11th October 2020, Plan International Uganda organized a pre-event today at their country headquarters in Bugolobi that was themed “My Voice our equal future.”
Following the global theme “ Girls Get Equal Freedom Online .” A campaign touched to free girls from online harassment. The Guest of Honor was the Minister of Gender Labour and Social Development Hon.Min. Nakiwala Kiyinji .
Unveiling the report, Greg Lavender, Head of Programs at Plan International Uganda noted that the study found that girls who use social media in high and low-income countries alike are routinely subjected to explicit messages, pornographic photos, cyberstalking, and other distressing forms of abuse, and reporting tools are ineffective in stopping it.
Based on the research cares out by Plan International, the survey shows there 14,000 girls aged 15-25 years in 22 countries indicate that 58% of the girls have experienced online harassment, one in four girls (24%) exposed to harassment are left feeling physically unsafe,42% loss self-esteem, feel mentally or emotionally stressed and 18% have problems at schools.50% of Girls said they are more online harassment than street harassment. Online harassment starts with girls from the age of 8. Girls report that social media harassment is at its peak between the age of 14-16. Younger girls are seen as vulnerable by perpetrators.
The platforms on which online violence happens the most are Facebook (39%), followed by Instagram (23%) WhatsApp (14%), Snapchat (10%), Twitter (9%), and TikTok (6%). Many other findings were located. Three-quarters (74%) of those surveyed say they post frequently or very frequently while interviews suggest that COVID 19 has made being online even more important.
Speaking on behalf of other girls and young women, Margaret, 19, said online violence in Uganda is serious, it causes real harm, and is silencing girls’ voices.
“This is discouraging us to express our views and be part of important conversations. We are physically threatened, sexually harassed, body-shamed and it gets worse when we raise their voices and share our opinions. We should be listened to,” Said Margaret.
Ms. Iveta Ouvry, The Country Director of Plan International Uganda said that “these online attacks may not be physical, but they are often threatening, relentless, and limit girls’ freedom of expression. Driving girls out of online spaces is hugely disempowering in an increasingly digital world, and damages their ability to be seen, heard, and become leaders.”
“Disappointingly, they are being left to deal with online violence on their own, with profound consequences for their confidence and wellbeing. With COVID-19 driving more of our lives online and with internet access around the world improving, it is time for digital platforms to step up and protect their users,” Said Iveta.
As part of the campaign, girls around the world have written an open letter to Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter calling on them to create stronger and more effective ways to report abuse and harassment.
Honorable Minister Nakiwala Kiyinji appealed to all key stakeholders to come together, as Ugandan citizens, in helping to ensure that girls and young women realize their rights. She went further and asked them to Listen to girls and learn about their aspirations, and engage them in decision-making processes. She argued Csos to Work with boys, men, households, and communities and sensitize them about the rights of the girl child too.
Furthermore, Hon. Nakiwala requested for Safe and Inclusive Community Places where girls can develop and raise their voices to help develop their skills.
“The Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development is Take action to prevent, monitor, and respond to all forms of online violence and harassment towards girls and women” Said Hon. Nakiwala