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How Social Media is being used to exacerbate gender-based violence; A Case Study of Malawi

by Milicent Atieno

Last year, Malawi witness a viral grainy camera phone video footage of three women stripping a fourth woman naked, pulling off her hair, beating then dragging her on the ground, before smashing a flower pot on her head.

The video was circulated virally in across closed WhatsApp groups before finding its way to the open platform of social media. The violence meted on the poor woman who was being beaten by the three women was exacerbated by the fact the video went viral on social media; being seen far and wide.

However, it led to the arrest of the three women, but you know as the saying goes; two wrongs don’t make a right. A picture of the three women who beat up the first woman surface online showing them sited down on a cement floor in a police cell, but topless. The cycle of shaming and total lack of respect for personal privacy continuing.

One can argue rightfully so, that as much as social media helps fight for women’s rights, it also serves as an amplifier for the existing cultural, gender-based abuses. Both videos underscore the point how women in Malawi are sexually harassed in public, then humiliated online in a vicious cycle of shaming.

CNN did a republish of the women’s photographs, not to continue the culture of shaming the abused women, but speak on the wanton abuse of women’s right to privacy; right not to be taken photos/videos and shared publicly without their consent. Although CNN was prudent enough to remove the women’s image in the pictures.gender-based violence

Above is the picture of the three women arrested for beating up another woman. There is no justification for their actions, but to post their picture topless online continues the culture of shaming and lack of respect for women’s rights.

The 2015-2016 Malawi Demographic and Health Survey shows 20% of the respondents experienced one form or the other of sexual violence. With women being the victims most of the times. 34% said they have been victims of physical violence.gender-based violence

The picture above is another viral post of a woman stripped

You can read the entire story over at CNN here.

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