Kenya: Women Journalists’ Digital Security

The Internet continues to be an enabling space and resource for the realization of all human rights and is especially relevant for social, economic and human development. It was created as a leveller of communication, allowing for more direct communication between individuals, greater access to information and means for freedom of expression. For journalists, the Internet is a critical resource that they depend on for news distribution, interaction with audiences and even communication with sources.

Despite this, the Internet has also been an avenue for attacks against journalists, sometimes on a gender basis and facilitated the online harassment of women journalists. There has been an increasing concern for online safety of women journalists in Kenya over the past few years, with social media being the most used platform for these attacks. Some of the common online gendered attacks reported in Kenya include cyber stalking, sexual harassment, surveillance and unauthorized use and manipulation of personal information, including images and videos.

The situation is particularly dire for women journalists and human rights defenders who, more often than not, do not have genderspecific mechanisms through which to address these attacks. It is within this context that the AMWIK and ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa, with support DW, undertook a baseline survey to gauge the degree of awareness of the problem and understand its magnitude. The survey also examines the evolving nature of digital threats and sources of violation and the interventions needed to address the attacks. The survey also investigates the types and patterns of online harassment of women journalists as well as how to improve reporting mechanisms and policies that will address the situation.

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