The Feministing While Malawian Podcast took on the conversation of safety online in partnership with For Equality and Plan Malawi as part of 16 days of activism against gender-based violence.
The episode is titled #SheTalksCyberSecurity
On this episode of the podcast the opening conversation surrounds the topic of GBV in the country.
The participants expressed that they were tired and overwhelmed of the events surrounding 2020 and that social media carried a dark cloud holding all the issues of 2020.
They went on to demystify what cybersecurity is saying that it describes safety online and described it in the context of a young woman manoeuvring on social media.
The discussion raised awareness on issues of privacy and cyberbullying and how this has an effect on online users. The ladies expressed that being online should be a space where they can be free and where decisions can be made without harming anyone as well as issues of consent when it comes to sharing personal data to other individuals.
They discussed that safety online can be compared to the type of safety they want to feel in their real lives in the sense that they wouldn't strangers in their spaces or random individuals stalking them. They also discussed that social media should be a place to freely express themselves without being trolled due to the level of exposure that online platforms provide.
The conversation around cybersecurity also centres around the issue of respect, as much as individuals should be allowed to express themselves freely, it is also just as important to do so respectfully without inviting any level on violence and opinions on human rights.
Online platforms leave room for cyberbullying and there is very little that social media platforms have done in the form of punishment for cyberbullying.
Issues such as revenge porn and "hule" lists are a huge issue facing Malawians and unsolicited messages from individuals that send inappropriate messages and in extreme cases pictures.
Other issues such as hacking were also brought up and their disruption of formal and personal e-meetings. The attack on feminists from trolls was also discussed as well as plain old rude remarks.
Unethical matters such as the sharing of images of, for example, rape victims was addressed and how this is insensitive and can have adverse effects on these individuals and their mental health and how there is a lack of empathy on social media due to the fact that people can't see each other.
The lack of seriousness from police services was also discussed as well as issues of victim blaming and how this perpetuates the issue of cyberbullying was also discussed.
The fact that Malawi does not have the tools and technology are issues that have been said to be missing from the cyber act and so there is a lack of what the law can do as well as creating spaces for survivors to tell their stories without being afraid of backlash.
A lack of awareness of the e-transactions act and how to report a perpetrator and what their online rights are is present. The act says that online users must have their physical address present in order for summons to be dropped off at their residences.
To conclude, the participants said that until greater action has been taken by these online platforms then it is important to leave your thoughts off the internet and take some time off and to find power in not engaging with everything online in order to avoid getting involved in issues of online violence. It is also important to continue having these types of conversations in order to continue raising awareness on the matter.