Preparing for Palestine and Israel: Background, Contacts, a Point of View

So, I’m travelling to Israel and Palestine in a couple of days – on Saturday the 9th, to be accurate. It’s a work slash family holiday: I’m visiting my family living there (in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem) and I’m writing a couple of articles from there, as well. As much as I would like to tell you what a wonderful, interesting, beautiful and WARM area that is, I’m trying to keep from doing that and instead sharing with you the idea of an article that I’m working on considering the relations between Israel and Palestine and more specific, women’s role in it.

A little background: It is essential to know the history behind the situation and conflict when first of all visiting the area but especially when writing an article considering it. As you know, the situation continues to be very difficult between Israel and Palestine. Both sides claim to have a historic right to the area – Jewish Israeli as the God chosen people and Palestinians as the original inhabitants of the area called Palestine that includes not only the West Bank and Gaza but also the present Israel as well as parts of Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. Neither Israeli nor Palestinians are happy with the current borderlines, and the struggles, fights and attacks continue.

Well, of course there are almost as much ’truths’ about the justification on both sides as there are people living there. See for example these more or less funny videos:

I’m not trying to solve the conflict here. I have chosen a specific theme to study and write an article about: Women working for peace and solidarity in Israel and Palestine. There are female-led organizations on both sides of the border of West Bank that do charity, volunteer and promote peace between Israeli and Palestinians. My target is to find some of these women and ask about their thoughts, work and goals.

First I should mention you a Finnish contact of mine, Tuitu Pykäläinen. She is currently volunteering in Palestine as a peace observer via an international organization Eappi. Her main job is to observe at the checkpoints leading from Palestine to Israel and vice versa. She has given me valuable information on the women’s organizations on the district and on her job as well. I’m going to visit her in Jericho, Palestine, next week as well, and probably going with her team to observe a checkpoint. How exiting!

Back to the point: from Tuitu I heard of an organization called Women in Black. It was set-up by Israeli women, but is now joined by women all over the world. They are promoting peace with non-violent direct activism. So, I contacted Tamar Lehahn, a contact person of Women in Black in Israel, and asked for a meeting. Luckily, she answered right away! We have set up a meeting on Friday the 15th of May in Jerusalem, right before their demonstration that takes place every Friday at 1PM. I’m also going to take part in the demonstration and document it.

Here’s a short info video about Women in Black in Israel:

Through Tamar and Tuitu I am then going to search for ordinary women living in Israel and Palestine and ask about their views on first of all women’s position and rights on both sides, and how they feel the situation between the two sides, how does it affect their lives and so on. I’m of course interested also in the role of social media in the work of e. g. Women in Black, but also how do ordinary women use the internet and social media and if they face any violence there, especially if they take part in demonstrations such as the one of Women in Black.

So far I don’t have any answers to these interesting questions, but soon I hope I will have! I’m really, really, REALLY looking forward to this trip and meeting those amazing, courageous women.

Stay tuned, more to follow on this topic as soon as I’m there and have something to share with you!

Mainokset

What to Do to Help a Victim of Cyber Violence? 10 Suggestions to Organizations and Individuals

Happy World Press Freedom Day!

Today, the 3rd of May, we celebrate the United Nations’ World Press Freedom Day. One of the themes this year is digital safety. The UN pays more and more attention to the topic – it is a growing concern because digital communications makes it difficult for journalists to protect themselves and their sources.

It is not only us journalists who have to be concerned about digital safety, though. As mentioned in previous posts, women have to respond to a growing amount of technology- and online-related violence against them. Common cases are stalking online, sexual harassment and using of personal information, photos and videos without permission.

A considerable problem connecting to digital safety is that victims don’t have the tools against online harassment and misuse or knowledge what to do to stop it. Often the case may also be that they don’t know how and from whom to get help and where to report. Unfortunately, in many countries there are no laws or policies dealing with this type of violence, probably mainly because it is still such a modern form of violence.

Of course there are already some organizations promoting online safety and fighting against cyber violence. In this post, I’ll make suggestions, that hopefully can be used by organizations such as Naisten Linja or Women’s Line (a Finnish organization helping women who have faced violence) and by individuals, on how to promote online safety and prevent cyber violence.

  1. Remeber: The Victim Is Never the One to Blame.
    As in any form of violence, the most important thing to remember and acknowledge is that the victim is never the one to blame. Admitting that you are a victim is the first step towards becoming a survivor.
  2. Acknowledge the Problem
    For organizations and also governments and authorities the first step to offer help to victims of cyber violence is to see and admit the problem. Cyber violence is a real thing. It is comparable to psychical violence. The victims may be as helpless as those who face threats face to face.

    For example Women’s Line lists physical, psychical, sexual and financial violence as forms of violence, but mentions nothing about cyber violence. Stating cyber/online violence as its own form of violence gives it the name and recognition it deserves in the modern, digital age.

    Here’s a quote from a feminist writer Soraya Chemaly’s article in Hufflington Post, where she puts the situation of women stating their opinions online very clearly and, in my opinion, with pretty awesome words:

    Public space has traditionally been an entirely male sphere. It’s only recently that this has begun to change. But, like street harassment and the threat of violence that give it its suppressive power, namely rape and physical assault, this kind of online abuse is largely tolerated. Having an opinion, as Laurie Penny put it, is the ”short skirt of the Internet.” And, like harassment, women are supposed to quietly adapt. ”Grow a thick skin!” ”Just ignore it!” ”Don’t read comments!”  We’re suppose to pretend that these digital incivilities are gender-neutral  and unrelated to other behaviors meant to keep women silent. They are not. A 2006 study found that chat room participants with obviously female names were 25 times as likely to be the targets of sexually explicit, threatening and malicious messages. In reality though, this gendered online safety gap mirrors the real world one.

  3. Don’t Turn Your Back on a Victim.
    In some cases, online harassment may lead to awkward social situations, if the abuser has for example spread rumors or images of the victim to her (or his) friends, family or employer.

    If you as an employer, a co-worker, a friend or a family member know that someone has faced cyber violence, don’t turn your back on her (or him); don’t take over the bullying – that’s what the bully wants. Don’t ignore – share your support and sympathy to the victim. Think how you would react if you learned that someone is suffering from domestic violence – cyber violence is very much comparable to that. And do not blame the victim – she (or he) hasn’t done anything wrong.

  4. Spread the Word.
    Speak out against violence against women – against any form of course, but especially against cyber violence, since it’s such a new type of violence. Post a comment, fact or resource on your social network, and start a conversation. Be also prepared to discuss: know the facts, and also be prepared for counterarguments and doubt.

    Don’t be afraid of challenging directly those posting harmful or questionable material (pics, video, comments) online, for example in social media. Speak up, if you face anything suggesting to cyber violence. Tell about the psychical distress and pain it may cause to the victim. Use the word ’violence’ – as online harassment and bullying is in fact violence.

    Challenge also the media. They may be unaware of the whole issue. Write a reader’s letter, an op-ed, or contact a journalist you know.

  5. Challenge the Authorities.
    Don’t give up, if the authorities – police, judge etc. – say that there is nothing to do. There may not be a law pointed directly to cyber bullies, or even a precedent, but there should always be something to do. Emphasize that to the authorities: your case could be the precedent.

    Cyber criminals are criminals also offline. Sad examples do exist showing a link between cyber violence and sexual and physical violence. For example,

    in Wyoming, United States, a woman was raped by a stranger when her ex-boyfriend posted an ad on Craiglist.com calling for a man to go to her house, pretend to attack her and act out a ”rape fantasy.” (http://womensenews.org/story/crime-policylegislation/110501/cyberstalking-turns-web-technologies-weapons)

  6. Learn About the Technology.
    Or, if you don’t have the tools or knowledge on how, for example, to delete an image online, ask for professionals for help.
    Here are some basic instructions on how to prevent online harassment, surveillance and online attacks:
    – Change your passwords regularly. Don’t use the same password for different accounts.
    – Be careful with public computers – they could have for example spyware installed.
    – Keep your software up to date.
    – Be careful with opening emails or contact requests coming from addresses or people you don’t know. They may contain viruses or otherwise attack your account and personal data.

    See more for example here: http://womensenews.org/story/crime-policylegislation/120515/cyber-safety-savants-say-less-best-online
    and here: http://nnedv.org/internetsafety.html

  7. Think Before Posting.
    Do you really need to tell some web site your full name? Are you absolutely certain that you want to share your whole network your whereabouts? Stop to think before posting.
  8. Don’t Stop Using the Internet.
    Not trying to spook you with all this! Enjoy the possibilities of our modern, digital age. But remember: with great freedom (of expression) comes great responsibility. Don’t be too careless while surfing online, and don’t close your eyes if you face misuse or crimes.
  9. Share Your Story.
    With voice, truth and proof you can make a difference. Don’t be afraid of telling if you are or have been a victim (or a survivor!) of cyber violence. Personal stories may well encourage other women to act, speak up and defend their privacy, safety and rights.
  10. Don’t Be Ashamed.
    Remember: it is not your fault.

Blaming the Victims, Ignoring the Real Issue – Problems of Revenge Porn

Re•venge porn, n. A form of sexual abuse that involves the distribution of nude/sexually explicit photos and/or videos of an individual without their consent. Revenge porn, sometimes called cyber-rape or non-consensual pornography, is usually posted by a scorned ex-lover or friend, in order to seek revenge after a relationship has gone sour.

(http://www.endrevengeporn.org/)

Revenge porn is also the issue of this post. Revenge porn is no less than a form of sexual assault. It’s not physical, it’s psychical. It may cause the victim a great deal of trauma and stress.

Here are some statistics for you to get the idea how big of a problem revenge porn actually is in the digital era of ours – I’m quoting the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative with the numbers here:

  • One in ten ex-partners have threatened exposing nude or sexual photos of their ex online. 60 percent of those having made the threat also follow it through.
  • 90 percent of revenge porn victims are women.
  • 93 percent of the victims suffered from significant emotional distress.
  • 49 percent of the victims have been harassed or stalked online by users who have seen their material.

One big problem relating to this is: what is once posted online, is very difficult to remove. So once someone decides to post your nude photo, it stays there practically forever, for anyone to see. See a video by CNN on the topic here.

Why do they do that, then? What makes one attack someone’s privacy with such drastic, hurtful means?

Motives can be many, none of them any more acceptable than the other. According to Cyber Civil Rights, reasons can vary from earning money or sexual gratification to revenge or pure pleasure of causing pain and emotional distress.

It’s not just the pics. Most often the victims of revenge porn have personal identifying information posted alongside with the offensive pictures. Revealing the victims personal information – it may be their name, email, or even phone number – to the ’audience’, the harasser invites everyone else to join them in stalking and abusing.

A question remains: How do we hold accountable those who harassing, bullying, threatening and abusing someone online?

Unfortunately – and astonishingly – revenge porn is such a grey area still, that there are no explicit laws on revenge porn. Not yet, that is; there are petitions organized for example in the United States and in the UK to criminalize revenge porn. Until the parliaments take this modern form of abuse with the seriousness it deserves, the struggle is in our own hands, and, luckily, in the hands of a growing amount of organizations (mainly female-led) campaigning against revenge porn. One way to fight against the phenomenon is to raise awareness: to campaign, to promote, to share, to tell. An example relating to this is the case of the actress Jennifer Lawrence, whose nude photos were hacked and posted online. She then spoke up in an issue of Vanity Fair magazine in November 2014, calling photo hacking a sex crime. Good for you, Jennifer!

To protect one’s privacy, it is important to know one’s legal rights. There are some ways that victims can use to try to stop the abusers from sharing the material further. For example, if the, say, photos in question are ones that you (the victim) took yourself, you also usually have a copyright on them. Sharing your photos without your permission would in that case be a crime. For further information on copyright law, see for example Finlex (in Finland) or www.copyright.com.

Unfortunately, a victim of revenge porn trying to claim her/his rights may face not only pity but judgement as well. A victim of revenge porn tells on the web page of the organisation Woman Against Revenge Porn:

But what these people don’t realize is that, as a victim of revenge porn, I am not victimized one time. I am victimized every time someone types my name into the computer. The crime scene is right before everyone’s eyes, played out again and again, and, ironically, I am treated as if I am the one who has committed the crime. I am victimized every time someone tells me that it’s my fault because I consented to the taking of the photos.

Blaming the victim? Someone still does that after all the discussion about blaming the victims of rape of their assault? Apparently. To me, blaming a revenge porn victim sounds just as idiotic. Attack is an attack, no matter in what forms it hits you.

To finish up this cheerful topic, here’s a great chart about what to do if one comes across with nude photos or other explicit material. It also reminds that it is actually a crime to share material belonging to someone else – it may simply be a copyright violation.

Girl of the 4th Generation & Cyber Violence Against Women

Hi everybody!

This is a blog focusing on cyber violence against women, or in fact, campaigning against cyber violence. And this is my first post! In this post I’m going to tell you about the whole idea of the blog – what is it about, why did I want to start this blog in the first place, and what I’m about to share with you in the future.

First of all, the title, Girl of the 4th Generation, refers to a couple of things. First, what is the 4th generation? It’s us. The generation that has grown in a world where we have more freedom than we have ever had; in a world that is mediatized, where there are an increasing amount of ways to communicate and socialize; but on the other hand, in a world where the freedom and technology bring a whole new kind of problems; where media, communication technologies and us, the users of modern technology, face new challenges in terms of our basic rights. With basic rights I refer to the freedom of expression, which is guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (article 19). How is freedom of expression supported and on the other hand challenged in modern technology platforms? What can we do – what should we do – to promote free speech online and at the same time guarantee security?

Second, the title has the word girl in it. Well, I am a girl of the fourth generation – but what are my rights as a female in the modern, technological era? How can I defend my security and rights online? Violence against women has spread from domestic and sexual to cyber. Stalkers etc. now use cyberspace to harass and make violent threats under the cover of anonymity.

study conducted by the National Network to End Domestic Violence reports that 75 % of the survivors of domestic violence told that they have faced abusers who have access to their online accounts. 65 % of the survivors have abusers who monitor their online activities. 68 % have had their photos posted online without their permission. Online harassment is a real thing.

In this blog I will do an overview of campaigning against cyber violence against women. I will do a basic research on what is the issue here and its different variants. I will ask, why do we need awareness-raising on the matter, and to whom should it be targeted and by what means and via which media. I will share with you some campaigns and comment on them, and hopefully the posts reach some of the campaigners, as well. All in all, my target is to raise awareness on cyber violence against women – and to make you raise it further.