Push for a cyber-law gives hope to Kenyan women By David Njagi
or seasoned politicians like Rachel Shebesh, few hurdles appear to block her way in rallying for women’s rights.
Like all women hooked to the technology in Kenya, the hard-line politician has not been spared the muck of cybercrime.
According to the Women and Cybercrime: The Dark of ICTs report, there is a growing trend to spam email scams, impersonation and theft of personal data among others. “They seem to go hand in hand with
A teen navigates the internet at a resource center in Nairobi. Picture: David Njagi women’s and girls’ lack of knowledge of the risks and extent of the damage that they continue to sustain through cyber-crime,” says the report.
However, Shebesh notes, it appears someone is sleeping on the job, while the process of seeking justice for abused victims is too lengthy for anyone’s comfort.
“If today you want to catch someone who has abused you through social media you can but you have to go through a process that is too tasking for the ordinary Kenyan and so they normally leave it,” explains Shebesh.
According Shebesh, government agencies like the Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) and the Kenya Police Service can easily track and contain this emerging crime.
once they become signatories to the Convention.
“The Convention is expected to serve as a blueprint and guide countries to develop cyber security legislations,” says Grace Githaiga, vice-chairperson IAWRT.
The solution, they say, lies in developing laws that will protect women and user policies for organisations that specifically cater for women. There is also need for education targeting lay users.
“Signing of the Convention would have taken place in January 2014 but the process has been postponed until June due to Kenya’s involvement with the International Criminal Court,” Githaiga explains.
“Cyber-crime affects women differently,” argues Munyua. She adds: “The Cyber Security Bill should have a few clauses that deal specifically with how cybercrime affects women.”
“Cyber-crime is targeting everybody, I am a politician and I know we get targeted and that is why we keep off social media,” says Shebesh.
A study by the Kenya ICT Action Network (KicTAnet) indicates cybercrime against Kenyan women is on the rise, especially those holding offices of symbolic importance, due to the absence of a legislation to police it.
KicTAnet officials are certain that a solution can be found to deal with this emerging crime. However, laws are weak or non-existent to rein in on hate speech which users perpetrate online.
According to its chairperson, Alice Munyua, the legislation is expected to protect all Kenyans, but there is need to include a gender nature to cybercrime.
Shebesh is cautious because of the many abuses she has had to endure through the platform, also known to make and break lives.
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
MARCH 8, 2014
The promise of such a solution is in sight. The Kenya Internet Governance Forum Steering Committee (KIGFSC) is now pushing for a Cyber Security Bill.
However, the Nairobi County Women’s Representative keeps off social media, a tool that would otherwise give her the much needed leverage to share her campaign with the rest of the world.
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
However, not everyone is convinced that Kenya can deliver on such legislation. Besides, critics argue, Communication Commission of Kenya, the agency charged with developing the Bill refuses to share details of the legislation publicly.
Convention The International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) believes countries should engage in the making of the African Union Cyber Security Convention first before developing national legislation. According to IAWRT, African countries would be bound by international law to have their own legislations in place
Underreporting Kenya’s law enforcers link the increase in cyber violence against women to low reporting by violated victims. The office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) acknowledges that cases involving child pornography are reported more often than those of women and cyber violence. Besides the Director of Public Prosecution’s office can only deal with complaints. “When a complaint comes to us, we refer the matter to the police for investigation. This is because we cannot act on an issue that has not been investigated,” says Tabitha Ouya, Senior Assistant DPP and head of Sexual and Gender Based Violence Unit. However, the Kenya Police Service insists that cyber violence against women is classified as a serious crime. “Officers have been trained on cyber investigation at the Criminal Investigation Department and are well equipped to handle such cases,” says Marcela Wanjiru Andaje, Superintendent of Police in charge of community policing, gender and child protection.
MARCH 8, 2014
Long walk to fair representation of women in media By Arthur Okwemba
hile media practitioners have continued to argue that they give fair coverage to both gender in content and structures, study after study has shown a disturbing trend of marginalization of women.
A new study by African Woman and Child Features on women in political news further proves that a lot needs to be done to ensure that the female gender has fair share on the media platform Only 18 per cent, of those heard, read or seen in the political news were women, the 2013 study found. The study further show little number of women in media, especially print media. But one of the most troubling trends is the painfully low number of women in senior management positions. While in the past decade, we have witnessed progression towards inclusion of women in news media as sources and employees, they are missing out in the critical decision making positions, where males still dominate. A closer look reveals that while the patriarchs argue that women can enter the media space, they still are not ready to open doors for them into positions that matter.
Access to P3 forms remains a challenge By Ben Oroko
violence survivors in the region.
Bosire advocates for periodical and regular capacity building and sensitization among officers dealing with the P3 forms, especially the police and medical personnel to assure victims of their right to justice. Awareness
ccess to the Kenya Police Medical Examination forms commonly known as P3 forms by sexual and gender-based violence victims is almost next to impossible.
This is despite being gazetted by the Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo and assurances that the public can now access the P3 forms free of charge. Contrary to popular belief, sexual and gender based violence survivors can only access the forms at a cost. Speaking at Tendere Green Stadium in Gucha District, Kisii County, Naomi Bosire, Director of Women Concern and Child Focus (WOCCOF), expressed disappointment that the P3 forms are being sold to the sexual
“Besides building the capacity of the police and medical officers who handle P3 forms, there is also need to intensify public education and awareness campaigns on the access of P3 forms by sexual gender based violence survivors, including giving information to the public that the forms are not for sale” explains Bosire. She observes that sensitization on Post Rape Care forms that complement P3 forms for survivors should be given more attention during gender based violence awareness
subsequent cases in court. “The law requires that all assault cases be documented in the P3 but the cost of documenting, preserving and presenting the evidence in court is shouldered by the survivors,” says Bosire. She adds: “For a victim of sexual gender based violence to pay in seeking justice is a major challenge in the administration of P3 forms.”
Women follow speeches at tendere green stadium in gucha district,kisii county during the launch of last year’s 16-days of activism on gbv against women. picture: ben oroko campaigns to equip members of the public with more information on the forms and their importance in relation to seeking justice. The post rape care form was gazetted by the Minister for Public Health and Sanitation via Legal Notice NO.133. The gazettement based on the Sexual Offences (Medical Treatment) Regulations, 2012, requires that medical practitioners utilize the forms in documenting forensic examinations
and evidence collection. Bosire laments that the conditions under which the police issue the P3 forms are unfavourable to the victims seeking justice. She regrets that sexual and gender based violence survivors are often required to make copies of the P3 forms before taking them to medical officers who also demand for payment if they are to serve as witnesses in the
According to Margaret Omondi, community Resource Person for the Coalition on Violence Against Women(COVAW), concurs with Bosire’s sentiments and challenges the police and medical officers to ensure that P3 forms are given free of charge to victims to increase access to justice. “When a sexual and gender based violence survivor needs access to the P3 form, it is not a matter of reporting the incident to the police or seeking medical treatment, but it is the beginning of a justice dispensation progress to the victim,” observes Omondi.
In Kenya, there is concern over the high attrition rate of female who manage to break the glass ceiling. Majority of them cannot sustain themselves at the top for a long time. As Catherine Gicheru, the Managing Editor of the Star says: “There is so much politics around these top positions that many female employees find extremely difficult to cope with. As result, they are either forced out or resign when they cannot handle the pressure of the politics.” One of the most upsetting things in the media is lack of constructive gender perspectives in decision making processes. Lack of constructive approach because even when gender dimensions are manifested in decisions within media, they are invariably guided by stereotypical thinking. Women in media are not seen as intellectual in their own right, with capabilities to advance the strategic thinking and direction of the media houses; but as objects who can be deployed to rake-in financial gains for the media house. That is why television and radio stations are more focused on using women with specific looks and physique to sell their products and services. This thinking informs the decisions on who to employ, who to promote, and who to source information from.
is, therefore, not accidental that recent studies in the media have consistently shown poor representation of women in the media as sources, as workers, and as managers. In Kenya, the most recent and comprehensive study on gender and media, the Global Media Monitoring Program Report-Kenya 2010, found that only 19 per cent of those heard, seen or read in the media were women. An even more recent study funded by World Association of Christina Communication (WACC) and conducted by African Woman and Child Feature Services on women in political news shows that only 18 per cent of those read, seen or heard on political news are women. In Tanzania, the Gender and Media Progress Study of 2010 shows that only 21 per cent of those heard, read or seen in the media, are women. Women were found to be more present in the inside pages of the newspaper and less in the front pages where the so called serious issuespolitics, business and economics- are found. These are the areas the media seek the views of men more than the women when developing stories. Women are seen best suited to comment on soft issues such as entertainment, which in most cases are in the inner pages of the newspaper. This means on major political and economic issues that are at the heart beat of many countries, women are just bystanders, watching on the sidelines as decisions on matters that directly affect them are discussed and adopted. “Women are assigned to the entertainment and private spheres, and are thus marginalized within the news. This is achieved through the systematic positioning of women into “marginal” stories, pushing them from the front pages to the end pages and so called “soft issues”, argues Nirman Moranjak Bamburac and Tarik Jusic, and Adla Isanovic.
Data What this data tells us is that while Kenya and other countries in East Africa have differential economic and political status, gender representation and portrayal of women in the media is similar. Media houses in these countries seem to evaluate women in the same framework. The big questions being asked are: Do the media lack the women to speak to on political, economic and cultural issues? Is the media preoccupied and driven by the stereotype that men are better place to comment on these issues? To answer some of these questions and present empirical data on women and men in the media, several
A journalist shares a light moment with women leaders during a workshop. There is need to engage more to ensure that the female gender has fair share on the media platform. PHOTO: GEORGE NGESA
the models the media have about women and men sources of information, how these models influence decisions on sourcing, placing and follow-up stories or issues. Are women viewed as housewives, uneducated, mothers, sexual objects by the media and what implication does this have on the treatment of their views and issues in the media?
There is so much politics around these top positions that many female employees find extremely difficult to cope with. As result, they are either forced out or resign when they cannot handle the pressure of the politics. CATHERINE GICHERU, MANAGING EDITOR, THE STAR
frameworks have been developed. The only challenge is the development and refining of these frameworks has been a little bit slow in our context because very few studies on gender and media are conducted yearly. On many occasions we have to wait for five years to undertake any comprehensive studies. The challenge has been, while the frameworks we have are very good in addressing the quantity aspects of participation of women and men in the media; they remain weak on the qualitative aspects. Consequently, the analysis we undertake, somewhat, does not delve deeper into understanding the behaviour of the media and reasons why they take the decision they take. We are yet to conclusively understand
Nirman Moranjak Bamburac and Tarik Jusic, and Adla Isanovic in their study: Stereotyping: Representation of Women in Print Media in South East Europe argues that occupation is one of the key markers of a person’s identity and their status in a society, and is therefore often subject to stereotypical representations.
Model Such models explain why in country like Kenya, the media will be harsher in assessing women in public services who erries than when the same mistakes are made by a man. One area of interest for researchers is how media achieves this through the choice of sources, words, placing, and frequency of the story. If this is done, it will help us understand the meanings the media attach to certain gender when it comes to inclusion in content and decision making process, and what implication this has on the gender justice push in the media. Yet, it is the qualitative data that is likely to help tell the story behind the story. Media practitioners and some media scholars in Kenya and Tanzania have argued that we are yet to get into the minds of the media personalities and understand how it functions, if we are to realize a greater impact in making the media landscape more gender friendly. To those in this school of thought, qualitative studies are needed as a matter of urgency to help address this gap. Secondly, the frameworks we have used to analyze gender and media are yet to point their spot light on the relationship between power and access to media, which might explain, to a greater extend, the dominance of men in the media content and structures. Who really enjoys access to the media? How much power do the sources exercise and how does
this determine who accesses media. How do the media respond to these powers in terms of allocating resources, deciding who to interview, what to use and not use, and how much space or airtime to allocate. Do we understand the representation of the elite as sources of information? Is there a clearly defined criterion for determining the elite status of the sources of information? This is important because scholars of mass communication argue that in most cases, the media is most likely, to lookout for elite voices when seeking views on national discourse. Since majority of the women do not control various sources of power they are less visible in media content and structures.
Access According to Teun A. van Dijk of University of Amsterdam, the elite groups have access to certain forums and discourses that increases their proximity to media and likelihood of being interviewed by journalists. He argues that leading politicians, managers, scholars, or other professionals have more or less controlled access to many different forms of text and talk, such as meetings, reports, press conferences, or press releases. This is especially true for their access to media discourse. Journalists will seek to interview them, ask their opinion, and thus introduce them as major news actors or speakers in news reports. If such elites are able to control these patterns of media access, they are by definition more powerful than the media itself. The concern is if the frameworks that exist can truly determine if the media in question is gender sensitive? Does high number of sources or high representation of women in a particular media speak to the gender sensitivity of the media? The studies needs to go beyond content analysis and address the issues of policies, systems and interventions the media has put in place to qualify as gender sensitive. Only after this has been done, will we start talking about a media that is gender sensitive.