Gender-based violence over the years has become an issue that has called for undivided attention not just in Nigeria but also in Benue State. Cross (2014)In his research on Women’s experiences of online harassment in online gaming communities argued that social media has become a major concern when it comes to gender-based violence since it is ineffective in the control of gender-based violence in online gaming communities. Cases of gender-based violence in the state are becoming rampant and this call for urgent attention to curb the menace.
To buttresses the above assertion, Global Women’s Health Rights and Employment initiative uses the social media as one of it avenue of fighting violence against women, content are created in form if flyers, short articles, videos and images.
Without the use of social media in curbing gender based violence in the state, especially knowing the diverse importance of social media in spreading of relevant information that can help in such issue, there can be several dire consequences like affecting the victims psychological, physically and can even lead to death of the victim, that is why this study seeks to investigate the various important contributions of social media to the control of incessant rate of gender based violence in Benue State.
Social media use in mobilization or contribution for a particular course for development can never be over emphasized. This is because of the important role social media has played in basically all aspect of human endeavors. The advent of social media in the 21st century according to Bullock (2007) has become part of the daily lives of millions of people around the world in mobilizing people for a common course.
Social mediahas been shown to challenge and change power relations in society, viding platforms fordebate, reflection, influencing and mobilizing people. These sites have become central to conversations about social issues, VAW preventionwork has also evolved and expanded. Historically, anti-violence work has focused on reducing riskamong potential victims and perpetrators (McMahon &Banyard, 2011).
D’Ambrosi&Polci, (2017) note that fundamentals of social media the ability to aggregate people separated by physical distance but with similar experiences. These are often forms of unconventional involvement associated with political issues, where political is understood in its stricter sense (Norris, 2002).
Moreover, forms of “light” participation, such as signing a petition, the organization of flash-mobs, demonstrations or other forms of non-institutional mobilization, which are fairly common in social pages addressing violence against women and femicide, mark a degree of interest in issues of political relevance (Ceccarini, 2011).
The term “gender-based” recognizes harassment that is predicated on perceived gender identity. This type of harassment must be understood within the larger framework of gender-based discrimination and hatred, particularly against women (Nussbaum, 2010; Citron, 2014; Cross, 2014).
The U.S. Hate Crime Statistics Act officially includes gender as a protected category and has found that hate crimes motivated by gender bias more than doubled from 12% to 26% between 2004 and 2012 (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2014). Likewise, previous research indicates that women face a disproportionate amount of harassment, simply due to their identity as women.
Working to Halt Online Abuse (2013) reports that women were the victims of 70% of the 4,025 cases that it handled between the years 2000 and 2013. Another survey found that only 6.3% of women had notexperienced some form of online harassment (240 female respondents), compared to 12.8% of men (109 respondents) (National Centre for Cyberstalking Research, 2011).
In recent years, prevention approaches have evolved,from treating men simply as perpetrators of violence against women and girls or as allies of womenin its prevention, to approaches that seek to transform the relations, social norms, and systems thatsustain gender inequality and violence (Jewkes et al, 2015).
Gender based-violence takes on many forms and can occur throughout a person’s life cycle (ZainabHawaBangura, 2014), many experience multiple episodes of violence that may start in the prenatal period and continue through childhood to adulthood and old age. This approach to GBV helps us to understand the continuum of violence (ZainabHawaBangura, 2014) and its cumulative impact in terms of physical and mental health consequences for women and girls, boys and men. This shows that “mild” and severe forms of violence are part of the same continuum.
Not only the most severe forms of violence are hurtful, but even more so the everyday presence of violence throughout a person’s life.
Also Munshi, (2010), confirmed that when violence in general is more present in a society and in situations of increased militarization, subordinated groups in the society become more vulnerable in public arenas as well as in private.
Displacement and heightened tensions within communities and households exacerbate the risk of gender- based violence, including men’s violence against their intimate partners and other forms of violence in the family. Poor welfare services and the breakdown of social networks and justice systems make it more difficult for victims of violence to escape, and leave the perpetrators unpunished.
In times of crisis traditional gender norms are often emphasized, but might also lead to changed gender roles. When men are absent during war, women are forced to uphold men’s duties. This might lead to more stable changes of gender relations in a post-conflict situation, but more likely it becomes a parenthesis (Kuhuk, 2012).
The shifting media landscape presents new opportunities as well as challenges for VAW preventionwork. Conversations online frequently occur around current events; the comments sections of newsstories, forexample, frequentlycontainvictim-blamingandquestioningststatements, aswellasperpetrator-supportive statements (Zaleski et al, 2016).
Social media can be sites of resistance for challenging rape culture, however, scholars have also documented emerging and shifting forms of online sexualabuse involving social media (Powell, 2010). Thus, social media presents additional opportunities to movebeyond individual-level efforts to engage wider communities in violence prevention.
Social media can serve as an effective medium forcombating all kinds of violence, including gender-based violence. Global Women’s Health Rights and Empowerment Initiative has been using social media to campaign, advocate and disseminate information to the public through its social media handles on gender-based violence.
Let’s kick against Gender-based violence.