Cyberbullying: how women are silently dying because of fellow women

A few days ago the country and the whole world celebrated the International Women’s Day whose theme was along the lines of progress for women. Now technology is one of the fields that women continue to show tremendous progress because there is so much to be done including providing information, e-commerce and socializing.

Social media platforms are always abuzz with people sharing opinions and exchanging information while getting instant feedback the whole day. But one aspect of social media that is killing women silently is cyberbullying by surprise, surprise women.

I am not saying that women cannot engage in cyberbullying, just that one would think a woman is more inclined to understand the problems of another woman as compared to a man. The latter might do it out of ignorance until they are called out and set on the straight and narrow path.

According to Bill Belsey, an expert in cyberbullying, the latter involves the use of information and communication technologies such as e-mail, cell phone and pager text messages, instant messaging (IM), defamatory personal websites, and defamatory online personal polling websites, to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group that is intended to harm others.

Only two years ago, the World Wide Web Foundation warned of the worsening online bullying of women in Kenya. In its latest report released in Kisumu last week, the global foundation revealed that one in five Kenyan women have reported online harassment. The report, “Women’s Rights Online Report Card”   petitioned the government to urgently combat online bullying. The statistics are grim and they might worsen with time.

Here are a few incidents where women bully other women:

Cyber bullying is very rife online targeted at teenagers mainly
Cyberbullying is very rife.
  1. Barren women

The Bible story of Hannah who used to be laughed at by her co-wife Peninah for not having a baby often repeats itself in present times. A woman will take to social media seeking to adopt a child because she cannot have one, only for fellow women to ridicule her for condition and her decision to adopt a baby. This can be quite traumatising to a woman who has to live with snide remarks offline as well from friends, family and foe.

  1. Single women

There seems to be a preset age within which a woman should get married. Here in Kenya, people will raise eyebrows when you get to 26 years without a husband or children. Get to your thirties without one or both and the laughter will be open. Some will want to know how you spent your twenties without managing to get married and so on.

  1. Single mothers

This is perhaps one of the groups of women that do not know rest. Any time you log in, there is always someone saying something bad about them and their children. A part of the society still holds that children raised by single mothers are ill-behaved. In some quarters, the stereotype that single mothers are husband snatchers still exists, and many will not stop voicing it. Everyone has a different story and just because a single mother somewhere is engaged in husband snatching it does not mean that all women do.

  1. Married mothers

It is unfortunate today that some married women in Kenya are experiencing some of the most difficult times yet because of gender-based violence. They also face incidents where men marry second or third wives after which they elope with them to the hills yonder. As bad as such incidents sound, you will still find a fellow woman laughing at another for experiencing such turbulence in their marriage.

  1. Stay at home mums

Women really look down on stay-at-home mums. To them, such moms are lazy, lack ambitions, do not have any form of education. That is not true on all counts. Some of them are actually quite learned and have just taken a break from their busy careers to take care of their children. In other cases, the women have looked for jobs to no avail. There are also instances, where women decide to be stay-at-home mums upon discussions with their husbands. Unfortunately, not many people bother to think this way, they have just decided that these women are very lazy and so on.

  1. Women living with HIV/AIDS

Although we have made significant progress as far as the gains in the fight against the prevalence of HIV /Aids is concerned, women living with the condition are still facing stigma. Some of these women include house helps, whose employers decide to check their bags without permission. Once they learn of their status, the employers take to social media seeking advice on whether to keep them or send them away. This can be so unfair to the househelp, who are protected by the law as far as employment is concerned.

  1. Body shaming

A woman wore a jumpsuit and took to Facebook to ask fellow women to help glam her outfit. However, instead of helpful comments, she was met with more toxic comments just because she was a big woman than with helpful insight. Whether slim or big, getting humiliated online for your body can really get to any woman.

       8. Public Shaming 

These days, it is not uncommon to wake up and find someone has posted a photo of a lady (on various Kilimani mums groups and others) with a stern caption that she stops the affair with someone’s husband. In this case, the husband of the person who’s posting the image. Interestingly, you will never see the wife posting her husband’s photos. The comments that usually follow that photo are enough to make one hide in a cave and never come back.

If you encounter any form of bullying please turn off the notifications to the offending post, and if you wrote the post you can always delete. Do not let anyone one bully you at any costs. If you are the troll, it is simple, do unto others as you would like them to do unto you 

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