On 3-5 February, the APC Women’s Rights Programme met with country partners of the Sexual Rights Project to discuss and plan activities for the year ahead. How do we organise and advocate making the links between sexual rights and internet rights? What synergies can we find in our national advocacies, and how do we bring the issues we are facing to the global level? Those were the questions this meeting aimed to discuss.
"The internet has its dangers but is not a dangerous place"
Current directions and recent actions in information and communications technology (ICT) law and policy reflect anxieties around cyberterrorism, resulting in greater regulation of cybercafes, a preoccupation with censoring “obscene” content and protection of children from online harm and sexual content. There are two problems with this: one, that these concerns are not derived from an evidence base and two, that the realities of women users and young people are notably absent.
What is the value of the internet in the exercise of rights? The rapid development and growth of internet access and services in the last two decades indicate its central role in current social, political, economic and cultural life. The internet has been a key space to facilitate the exercise of fundamental rights and freedoms, especially to access critical information, build knowledge, express thoughts and beliefs, form networks and communities and mobilise for change.
In the first phase of the EROTICS project, research was conducted in Brazil, Lebanon, India, South Africa and the US with marginalized sections of society who use the internet to exercise their sexual rights. This research produced much needed insights into what women and marginalized sexual minorities make of this emerging public sphere, but also exposed threats that can be obstacles to their participation in creating critical information and debates around sexuality.
As personal computers became relatively inexpensive, the Internet has become an ever-increasing part of people’s day-to-day lives. People use the internet to communicate, educate, organise as networks, access information, find jobs -- the list is endless. The World Wide Web however, is being progressively devoured by the implementation of national intranets whose content is "approved" by the authorities.