Social media companies cautioned to create reporting mechanisms against harassments

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Mr Solomon Tesfamariam

Mr Solomon Tesfamariam, the Country Director of Plan International Ghana, has cautioned social media companies and organisations to create stronger, effective and accessible reporting mechanisms against online gender-based harassments.

This would enable the companies to bring perpetrators to account and maintain confidence among users of the networks.

The caution followed the launch of Plan International’s report dubbed, “State of the World Girl’s” report, conducted on 14,000 girls and young ladies from 22 countries, on their experiences being online on social media platforms, which revealed that 58 per cent of them had experienced varied forms of online harassments.

The report said 28 per cent of the total number studied faced harassments on Facebook, 14 per cent on WhatsApp, five per cent on Instagram, two per cent on Twitter, one per cent on Snapchat, one per cent on Youtube, and one per cent on other platforms.

Moreover, 85 per cent faced sexual harassments; 64 per cent, abusive and insulting language; 57 per cent, threats of sexual violence; 50 per cent, purposeful embarrassments; and 43 per cent, body shaming attacks.

Out of the total number, 42 per cent also had threats of physical violence; 40 per cent, stalking and annoyance; and 25 per cent were attacked with racists’ comments among other types on online harassments.

Mrs Florence Ayisi Quartey, Director, Department of Children, advised young ladies and girls not to be persuaded to post odd and life threatening materials on social media just to get many likes, as it could be detrimental.

“Sometimes you post something important and inspiring and don’t get any like or comment, but sometimes, somebody meets you and tells you, I like the post you shared the other day. So the fact that you posted something good and didn’t get a comment doesn’t mean people didn’t like or appreciate it,” she said.

She encouraged all stakeholders including; the government and civil society organisations to take the outcome of the report seriously and act on it to safeguard girls, who were vulnerable on the social media.

Ms Ama K. Abebrese, an actress and advocate on gender equality, said the disparity between girls and boys in all spheres of life could not be disputed and to achieve true equality, there was the need for a collective effort from all stakeholders.

Madam Anne-Claire Dufay, the UNICEF Country Representative in a statement read on her behalf, said with the increased number of children spending a lot of time online in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the internet had seen exponential increase in the online ‘child sexual abuse and exploitation’ and ‘child sexual abuse material online’.

The reality, she said, was that online violence against children was an extension of the offline violence and abuse.

She explained that the online abuse was worse than the hands-on abuse because child victims suffered re-victimisation each time the image of their sexual abuse was shared or viewed.

She encouraged all, including; young ladies and girls who faced harassments and fraudulent attacks online to report it to *292# or dial 292 on all networks to report it to the National Cyber Security Agency for the appropriate measures to be taken against it.

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