Perceptions of violence against women on the social media platform: the case of social media in Kenya
Njuguna, Evelyne Wanjiku
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The growth of social media has provided a powerful, widespread and global communication platform. Its growth has had an impact on the opportunities for the perpetration of violence against women. Though violence against women did exist before, social media is presenting new ways in which women experience violence. This study sought to address the perception of violence against women on the social media platform as experienced in Kenya by answering questionsregarding the types of violence that are experienced, the cause of such violence, the impact of such violence, as well strategies for overcoming such violence. The research was based on the general aggression model. The theory was used to explain how whateverthat is consumed through social media influences behaviour and thoughts, shapes ideas and how eventually individuals turn violent and use social media as a platform for their aggression. The research was conducted virtually on the social media platforms, with Facebook being used as the main platform for the study. The study employed an explorative design and convenient sampling technique. Key informants were targeted using purposive sampling. They were expected to respond to questions on strategies already in place to handle VAW in online spaces and the challenges they experience in implementation. This was achieved through a scheduled interview.The information they provided was used to compare their strategies to those proposed by researchers and those practised in countries where progress has been made in the fight against VAW in social media. The research used online questionnaires, secondary sources, social media resources and interview schedules to collect data. Data was analysed both descriptively and statistically. Qualitative data was analysed using the thematic method, while quantitative data was analysed using descriptive statistics such as frequencies. The research revealed that women experiencedviolence in various ways across the social media platforms. Key among the forms of violence being violent video sharing 63%, unsolicited pornographic content 63% and disclosure of personal information or images at 40%.Anonymity, easy access to social media and lack of online policing were some of the key causes identified by the respondents. The effects of violence on the victims were identified as disturbing and shameful thoughts and having to change physical and online behaviour. Some also mentioned feeling afraid of real physical harm. The respondents suggested ways to stop such violence which includes: relevant laws to punish perpetrators, campaigns to educate women on their rights while on social media platforms as well as making known the proper avenues of reporting such violence when it is experienced. Based on the findings of this research, the researcher concluded that violence against women on the social media platform is a real issue that is being experienced by Kenyan women in various forms. Due to the impact that such violence can have on the freedom and ability of women to fully participate in social media, it is important that such violence be addressed. This can be done by increasing avenues of reporting violations and putting in place laws that adequately punish perpetrators.