Cyberbullying perpetrated against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTIQ+) community has been on the rise of late, and victims have been urged to be more vigilant and report incidents as they occur. Other victims of the emerging Cases Online Gender Based Violence (OGBV) include celebrities and socialites, politicians, women activists, and female journalists.
With Deputy Director in the Botswana Police Department of Cyber Forensics, Nonofo Dichaba, indicating at an OGBV seminar that fewer cases are being investigated and perpetrators being let go, efforts are said to be underway to put mechanisms in place to address this concern.
The seminar comes against the backdrop of a recently released research report titled, 'Understanding OGBV in Southern Africa,' which investigates the prevalence of the phenomenon of online violence against women in the Southern African region.
The findings indicate that there is an opportunity to influence and advocate for change in policies and laws to ensure that OGBV is addressed adequately and that prosecutions increase.
The report notes that although there is a challenge of limited data to demonstrate OGBV prevalence in the country, the research indicates that cyberbullying of the LGBTIQ+ community, celebrities and socialites, politicians, women activists, and female journalists seems to be on the rise in recent times.
The research further indicates that whenever there is an LGBTQI+ related case before the courts, the level of insulting cyber attacks rises. Furthermore, social media platforms such as Facebook,
WhatsApp, and Twitter, which often attract heated debates and cyber attacks such as bullying, distribution of embarrassing videos and audio recordings, as well as pictures of public personalities are on the rise and impact negatively on the increase of GBV cases.
Gender Links has noted that government also bears a huge responsibility to end OGBV by devising measures to shape national discourse on the issue. Gender Links researcher Botswana, Pamela Dube has indicated that at the time of the research being published, there were not any pronouncements by the government regarding OGBV but only limited efforts to tackle online violence.
"Sections 16 to 20 of the Cybercrime and Computer Related Crimes Act (amendment of 2018) can be used to prosecute crimes such as cyberbullying, cyber harassment, image-based sexual abuse and child sexual abuse material, which helps in the fight against OGBV,” she said.