There is no doubt that digital platforms can be put to good use when it comes to helping women survivors of abuse.
For example, internet use has increased, leading to an increase in the non-consensual publication of photographs aimed at humiliating, threatening and controlling girls and women. Online abuse must be addressed immediately, and technology must be reversed and put to good use, including in gender-based violence preparedness and response.
In particular, in this era of Covid, women and girls must take the lead and work together to design safe digital technologies and platforms to address gender-based violence. Focus on the rights, needs and interests of those who have been abused. In no way shape or form are the methods we use to put women and girls at risk.
As far as Nepal is concerned, technology has played a major role in empowering women; in particular by giving them access to information and communications and enabling them to participate actively in society. Thus, it is possible to harness the power of digital platforms and technology in a positive way in different ways.
Let’s discuss the examples of digital platforms and applications that are being used to combat gender-based assaults and advance gender equality in Nepal.
Nepal’s technological landscape has changed the lives of women in Nepal over the past decade by making information and communications more widely available and enabling them to participate more actively in society.
A user’s risk of violence can be reduced by using digital platforms to raise awareness and educate. Web platforms and co-creation spaces have been designed for Nepalese women to share their stories to record the immediate and long-term impact of sexual violence. By providing a platform for women to tell their stories, co-creation spaces aim to eradicate gender discrimination and other forms of discrimination by empowering survivors of sexual violence and providing them with a safe space to heal. Podcasts like The Slice of Life and Boju Bajai are some examples.
The Slice of Life episodes also explore the most difficult issue facing women in Nepal: domestic violence. Boju Bajai, a social podcast in Nepal also helps support abused women. Generally, the role of technology has been used for the empowerment of women in terms of accessing and using information in their own way and fighting for what they need.
There are many ways to use virtual safe spaces, even when there is a lack of access to resources in the real world. Girls in disaster areas had access to virtual safe spaces (VSS), which contain educational materials on topics such as gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health, self-care and women’s empowerment.
The VSS can be reworked and expanded to better serve women around the world, based on lessons learned. UNICEF also aims to see bold achievements to meet these demands. Digital platforms are now available to help women and girls who experience or witness online abuse get the help they need.
Guide and safety net
The GBV Pocket e-Guide software provides aid workers with knowledge on how to effectively serve survivors, even if there is no GBV specialist or resource accessible. UNICEF worked with grassroots women’s groups in Malaysia with specific experience and confidence to make the manual relevant and interpret it into Bahasa Indonesian and Mandarin.
UNICEF also includes discreet information and referrals for people seeking support or reporting danger or violence. When users use chatbots and enter terms such as rape, attack or fear, the chatbots will be designed to automatically send information about GBV and counseling, including details on where to get it. GBV community ethical standards and regulations should be included in digital platforms while ensuring digital safety and privacy in Nepal.
To change the mentalities
Improving service delivery, reach and quality of GBV response is enabled by technological advancements on digital platforms. GBV’s case management software, Primero/GBVIMS+, is free and open source. Survivors of disasters like Covid benefit from this system which integrates a smartphone website and allows social workers and managers to collaborate remotely while collecting data in a safe and private way.
The technology has been used, for example, in Timor-Leste and Indonesia. One such app, ROSA, provides crucial education and knowledge sharing for those working with survivors of gender-based violence and their families. For victims of sexual assault, Medicapt is a smartphone app that securely records and transmits evidence in the case that can be used in court. Other digital platforms and apps allow victims to record incidents of abuse in a form that is both safe and secure, as well as legally acceptable.
As such, these new forms of cyberjustice are actually manifestations of collective justice. When survivors of sexual abuse speak up and create safe online forums to ask for help, they can also inspire others to come out and do the same. The only way to keep the light on is to keep telling the truth.
The possibilities for using digital platforms and technology to improve online safety, reduce risk and respond to GBV are virtually limitless. We must ensure that technology is available and safe for women and girls to close the technological gender divide.
The tech industry must be engaged, held accountable, and challenged to increase accessibility and include sexual assault prevention and response tactics in their programs to achieve the scale of change required.
The lives and realities of girls and women must be taken into account when building solutions based on digital platforms so that we can better understand the dangers they face. As technology advances, we must continue to focus on women and girls, invest in safe technologies, and continue to seek new approaches to eradicating gender-based violence.
As the need for continued empowerment of women and girls grows, the Nepalese government and civil society must redouble their efforts to contribute to their empowerment.