All of you use it. Some people misuse it. I'm talking about technology. Communication technology like cellphones or internet access points are particularly appreciated by those who use technology to get under your skin. They track you, observe you, CCTV you, have sex with you... in their dreams! The misuse of technology has been growing with the increased use of video games, internet porn portals and commercialization of every aspect of the private sphere.
Now, many stories emerge form as many countries, developed and emerging. Stories of women being drugged, raped, recorded agonizing on cellphone video and exposed on the net, for as many other bandits to see and fantasize about. This larger-than-real reality is unfortunately much more common than one would think.
The Inter Press Agency (IPS) -- an independent news wire -- is even taking the unprecedented step this year to take up the issue, by reporting from all over the world. They have just put out three fine pieces about violence against women through the use of technology. One from the streets of Ciudad Evita, Argentina (http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=53652), the other from a school yard in Karachi, Pakistan (http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=53669) and the third from the connected neighbourhoods of Kampala, Uganda (http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=53670). IPS is partnering with long-time Internet and ICT for human rights advocate APC -- the Association for Progressive Communications -- to accompany a 16-day campaign called Take Back the Tech. I strongly encourage you to read their well-informed articles on gender-based violence.
Started on November 25 and pushing the envelope until December 10, the Take Back the Tech campaign was started by APC and it's women programme back in 2005. Five years later, TBTT, as it is known, is now all over the internet, women centres, Twitter, cellphone devices, posters and obviously also on Facebook. Here's the main campaign headquarters: http://www.takebackthetech.net/
The interesting thing about TBTT is that it's 16 creative days in which people from all strands of life are asked to contribute 1 action a day. Make a poster, write to your Women Affairs Minister, watch & share a video, etc. Agreed, this is NOT what's going to solve the problem of women being abused with the support of technology. No, I'm not saying that. But I'm convinced that this campaign, and I have found the proof of it in the last 3 years, can raise awareness in big ways. It's fresh, creative, radical and darn pink!
Yes, Take Back the Tech is action-oriented, hands-on, whatever you want to call it. It's day 2 today, so you still got 2 weeks to make this happen. Let your community know about violence against women and how to fight it. Technology's generally neutral. Take it, use it for what counts: combating injustice and fighting for a better community. http://www.takebackthetech.net/take-action/16days
Frédéric is writing from Cologne.