Rape games and revenge porn: How the digital space has become unsafe for women

By Kagure Mugo/ The internet is a great space for community and interaction but it has also become another site of violence against women, with rape games, cases of revenge porn and verbal abuse. Kagure Mugo explores this dark side.

My laptop is suffering a serious case of the pop ups and as a result I have the most random things appearing on my screen. What often appears are adverts on how to earn money from my laptop which smell very much like Ponzi schemes. However, one day a disturbing cartoon popped up on my screen.

It was of a man ripping off the underwear of a clearly terrified woman. On top of the cartoon was a button asking me to “begin game” and in one foul moment I had just witnessed an advert for an online rape game. Someone actually developed a multi-level, multi-player game about sexually assaulting women and loaded it online, asking players to travel the world ‘conquering women’.

This game is one of the many ways that the digital realm, although being a blessing in some ways, has been a curse to women. Despite allowing for women to come together and have conversations and build community it has also allowed the scum of the earth to coagulate in dark corners of the web.

The United Nations released documentation stating that internet access is “no longer a luxury” with fibre optics and other developments having the ability to greatly improve and affect people’s quality of life. According to economic analysts information technology (IT) spending will hit $150 billion dollars with the majority being spent within Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

It is also predicted that the mobile phone market will break the $ 5 billion mark by 2018. Internet penetration within Africa is at 28.6 per cent compared to the world average of 46.4 per cent meaning there is huge potential for growth within the continent.

According to internal statistics there are 1.49 billion active internet users every day, Whatsapp has over 900 million active users with over 1 million new registrations daily and Instagram has 100 million active users every day.

In light of this, various individuals and collectives (such as Take Back The Tech and Zawadi Nyongo) dealing with violence against women online state that it is on the rise. Jan Moolman, women’s rights programme project coordinator at Association for Progressive Communications (APC) of South Africa, stated that: Technology related violence is on the increase which extended to the realms of mobile phone usage which was emerging as the most common tool used to perpetrate technology related violence against women. A study conducted by APC found that 22 per cent of the 1,100 cases interviewed reported repeated violence. About 33 per cent complained of emotional violence, with 11 per cent reporting physical violence. The latter indicates that online violence is now facilitating physical violence offline, which is a very disturbing trend.

There are several ways violence against women manifests itself online. According to reports on online violence, women between the ages of 18- 34 are likely to experience cyber violence and the likelihood of being harassed is increased if the online profile name is overtly female.

The trending of #Mollis, an audio clip of what sounded like a woman being sexually assaulted which was circulated around Kenya and neighbouring countries, is another acute example of this problem.

This is compounded by the rise of revenge porn which is increasingly becoming a continent wide problem. The bodies of women have become trending topics on social media platforms such as twitter. Pictures women sent to their lovers as intimate gifts are constantly being splashed across the internet.

Source: thisafrica.me

Sign up for Updates

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of new posts by email.