Towards combating online violence against women

Towards combating online violence against women
Towards combating online violence against women

Africa-Press – Lesotho. With the recent social media posts exposing men professing their love, swearing and threatening to kill women and young girls when they do not entertain their expressions, one cannot help but wonder what is to become of this generation.

One does not even have to be a public figure to be stalked as the vast majority of victims are ordinary people from all walks of life. In an interview with a Victim of Cyber stalking, ‘Malesa* – whose identity will be protected, disclosed that she met this guy by the name of Thabo while waiting for the taxis to Ha Thetsane where ‘Malesa resides.

Thabo had indicated that he would drop off at Lesia but as the taxi drove, he passed and told the driver he was no more going to the first stop but going further, only to follow ‘Malesa’s house to see where she stays. He began his onslaught of undesirable attention shortly after he professed his love for her but was rejected.

Unable to acknowledge that ‘Malesa did not feel the same way, he continued to pursue her relentlessly through creepy texts, inbox on social media and phone calls, going as far as threatening to kill her and getting to the point where he even called the landline of ‘Malesa’s workplace when he could not get her on all communication platforms.

This issue was taken further to the attention of the Police by the Human Resources Personnel and at the Police Station, it was revealed that there are many similar cases against Thabo, the problem is that he seems to be mentally ill thus needs medical attention.

“I have learned that he has many Facebook accounts. I remember one time when I was still communicating with him.

I had lost my father and had gone home to a far-away district, he instructed me to bring along the proof in a form of the Chief’s letter confirming that I was home on that stated date. That was when I realized that indeed Thabo is mentally ill,” she sobbed.

People Opposed to Women Abuse (POWA) Clinical Manager Tiny Moloko indicated that stalking is normally a precursor to a crime and that people have to take sexual harassment very seriously because it can lead to serious behavior.

Moloko disclosed that it is only victims of this unwanted attention of a stalker who can comprehend what it is like to be their prey. She also pointed out that this act of stalking is an escalating behaviour as what may start off as phone calls, text messages, emails and gifts can soon take a turn of events to violent and aggressive behaviour.

The Global Foundation for Cyber Studies and Research (USA), Researcher Rethabile Tšephe revealed that rather than a disorder itself, stalking is an unwanted behavior that falls under the umbrella of symptoms of various disorders.

“A good number of people stalk someone they have only met, briefly someone they don’t have any relation with or barely know.

The stalker may also focus on women who are easily accessible. They entertain unrealistic thoughts about a person. Which turns into them feeling like this person is the answer to their dreams,” Tsephe pointed.

Tšephe described the different types of stalkers as follows: REJECTED STALKER: Some stalkers who have been rejected by a person they desired a relationship with or have just experienced a breakup.

The stalker may be looking for ways to save their relationship or want to stay as close to the victim as much as possible. Worst case scenario, they are angry and want revenge for being rejected.

PREDATORY STALKER: Predators are at most times sexually obsessed or have sexual fantasies. Typically males. Women are their victims whom on most cases are strangers, but whom the stalker has a sexual interest in.

INCOMPETENT SUITOR: Incompetent suitor stalkers are not relationship material, they are lonely, and target strangers or casual acquaintances. They believe they can influence a woman of their desire to start dating them.

This type of stalkers are often blinded to the pain they inflict on the victim and majority of these stalkers lack social skills. RESENTFUL STALKER: A resentful stalker is someone that feels like they have been mistreated unfairly and as such, stalking the victim is the only way to get revenge for their perceived mistreatment.

They feel like they have a certain amount of power over the victim as they stalk them. Some of these stalkers have a form of mental illness, experience feelings of paranoia or persecution and can be self-righteous and self-pitying.

INTIMACY-SEEKER: Often suffer from a mental disorder, the intimacy-seeking stalker believes the victim will undoubtedly love or show affection for him, they are delusional. In many occasions, their primary focus is on prominent or famous people.

The Lesotho Mounted Police Services (LMPS) Spokesperson Senior Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli indicated that there are no laws governing cyber issues in Lesotho but urged those experiencing online threats and violations to report to the Police.

According to a 2012 study published in the journal Aggression and Violent Behavior: Motivations for stalking include a delusional belief in romantic destiny, a desire to reclaim a prior relationship, a sadistic urge to torment the victim, or a psychotic over-identification with the victim and the desire to replace him or her.

Stalkers can fall under a variety of diagnoses, including psychotic disorders; personality disorders, such as narcissistic personality disorder and delusional disorders, such as erotomania—a belief that another person, often in this case a well-known person, is in love with you.

A stalker is normally an isolated and shy person, lacks any type of important intimate relationship, not just sexual, but friends or family, too. There is also a narcissistic personality disorder and very low self-esteem.

The stalker feels that they’re the most important person in the world. On the same study, a 2011 survey found: 5.1 million women and 2.4 million men had been stalked the previous year. 1 in every 6 women and 1 out of 19 men in the United States have been stalked in their lifetime.

Most times, a stalker is someone the victim knows. Almost 3 out of 4 stalking victims know their stalkers on some level. The common relationship between the victim and perpetrator is a current or former intimate partner and 66% of female stalking victims were stalked by current or former intimate partners.

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