Lawyer urges women to report gender-based violence online

Lawyer Lizwe Jamela says it is important for victims of online gender-based violence to report their cases and seek justice to deter perpetrators from causing further harm.

Jamela spoke in a podcast organized by the Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe, in collaboration with CITE on online gender-based violence. (https://www.facebook.com/share/v/74ftFntoH2DSVw1Y/?)

Jamela stressed that women should not feel defeated when they are subjected to online violence. Still, they should seek justice to encourage victims to speak out while deterring perpetrators from committing similar crimes.

“Women should not feel defeated and cannot fight against online violence. They can be helped by some organizations that deal with legal issues and that specifically help women. They can be helped to file complaints at police stations. There is a system support that they can receive. The law is there to protect them,” Jamela said.

“Women should not suffer in silence, they should speak out. If what happens to you is taken seriously and the perpetrators are found guilty and sentenced, it can actually send a strong message to other perpetrators that they are not above the law.” This can also help encourage other victims to seek justice for themselves.

“If the victim decides to file a civil suit, they could win the cases. The media can pick up on that and report on the compensation the victim may have received and that would encourage other victims to follow suit and also deter perpetrators from commit such crimes.”

Jamela emphasized the importance of solidarity for men to support women in the fight against online violence.

“It is important for men to stand up for women and speak out against gender-based violence so that they can be protected. If women are left out of the fight on their own, they may not be taken seriously, but Men can also join the fight, we can advocate for positive change,” he said.

Ward 17 Councilor Sikhululekile Moyo, a victim of online violence, narrated that she was accused of corruption and that the issue was covered by the media.

He explained that the main challenge of being a victim of online violence is that when the media picks up and publishes stories with false narratives, retracting them would be very difficult.

“By the time evidence and facts are gathered to counter the misinformation, it will be too late. The damage would already be done. And sometimes none of the media outlets would be willing to publish their side of the story,” he said.

“Imagine the challenge I face as a female politician: I have been smeared with accusations of corruption. What do you think will happen to me when I want to do something different than politics, with fingerprints like that? Trying to seek justice for myself. It won’t eliminate all the misinformation that has been spread about me.