Violence: New technologies and male-chauvinistic aggressiveness

«My boyfriend began to call me up often to find out where I was. I initially thought his behavior was typical of a person truly in love,» said a 30-year-old communication specialist who asked not to be identified.

«We finally broke up last year; I could no longer take it,» she added.

«I was afraid of the telephone ringing or having a vulgar message on my e-mail box,» she added.

«All this came to an end when a friend of mine asked him to stop or deal with him,» she indicated.

The truth is that many local women are being controlled and/or persecuted through the use of the new information and communication technologies (ICTs).

Experts believe that, despite poor access and connectivity on the island, men are using ICTs to show their male-chauvinistic aggressiveness, especially on young women.

«Men find it really easy to locate their girlfriends and wives,» stressed university professor Magela Romero.

A report of the National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI) indicated that there are today 104,600 mobile telephone lines activated and 923,000 computers connected to the Internet in Cuba, a country with 11.2 million inhabitants.

Sexist surfing

Romero is concerned about the current trend to reveal private information over social networks like Facebook.

Paula Campanioni, a researcher at the Institute of Philosophy in Havana, commented that most men surfers believe that all women are looking for ‘company.’

Ariel López, a social communication specialist, recently conducted a research work along these lines, showing that traditional gender stereotypes and manifestations of symbolic, psychological and emotional violence are often seen on these networks.

Spanish psychologist Ianire Estébanez told SEMlac that the concept of cyber-control applies when a man decides who can or cannot become a friend of his girlfriend over the web.

There is also cyber-harassment when digital technology is used to track and/or persecute a person applying ICTs.

Is it the same type of violence?

Most victims belong to vulnerable groups such as women, minors, youngsters and LGBTI people.

Expert Mario N. Cruz said that gender violence is growing in the media.

In his book Social networks: Ethics and privacy, which was launched earlier this month in Monterrey (Mexico), he reviews actual cases of harassment, suicide and tragic aggression, involving mainly young women and gays.

«I know of women who have felt raped because their sexual partners have uploaded their intimate pictures,» said Cuban reporter Rosario Ojeda.

«They are often informally distributed, using cell phones and flash memories,» she added.

Against this background, the Final Declaration of the 57th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), held in March 2013 in New York, highlighted the importance of devising effective mechanisms to combat ICT use to commit acts of violence against women and girls.

«The new media, citizen journalism, social networks, video-blogs and modern devices can be effectively used to fight male-chauvinistic violence and promote gender equity,» Cruz concluded.

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