The National Women’s Commission condemns the constant disrespectful and insensitive comments continuously made on social media pages following reports of gender-based violence. It is unfortunate that such insensitive comments have become the norm in the aftermath of any reports of violence against women and girls be it sexual violence, online bullying, domestic violence, and even murder.
Public insults, shaming, and casting aspersions on the character, not only revictimizes victims of violence, but also impedes others from coming forward. Such insensitive comments on social media are, however, merely a by-product of the social norms and inequities linked to broader issues of gender inequality and discrimination. It is a merely sample of what many women and girls experience within their homes, workplaces and communities on a daily basis.
As a country, we have signed multiple conventions which calls for the protection, prevention, investigation, prosecution, punishment and provision of effective remedies to deal with gender-based violence. However, individual attitudes, values and actions should never cause further violence on those who encounter abusive situations. Speaking out, especially about sexual violence, requires great courage; insensitivity and judgement by the public simply adds further harm to the trauma victims already face by the crimes committed against them.
We remind all duty bearers–media houses, public officers, and organizations dealing with reports of violence of the “DO NO HARM” principle. A person lies in the midst of all these cases of abuse and “newsworthiness” or “sensationalization” should never override respect for the life of the victims or survivors of abuse.
VIOLENCE IS AND ALWAYS WILL BE A CHOICE AND A TOOL USED BY PERPETRATORS TO ESTABLISH POWER AND CONTROL.