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Nearly half of all women in West and Central Africa have been cyberbullied - research

media A young woman in Cote d'Ivoire uses the internet at a cybercafé in Abidjan AFP/ I. SANOGO

Nearly half of women polled across English and French-speaking countries in West and Central Africa, have experienced gender-based violence while using social media, indirectly pushing them out of that media, according to a study conducted across 18 countries in both of those regions.

“The sense of insecurity online plays a role in the digital divide between men and women: experiences of online violence do not motivate women to stay connected and give a negative bias to those who are yet to join,” according to a statement by Internet Without Borders, a Paris-based group that fights for digital rights, against digital repression and oppression.

The group polled women on Facebook and Twitter living in Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Gambia, Guinea Conakry, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Republic of Congo, and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Of the 45.5 percent of women who had experienced online harassment, only 15 percent reported this negative experience.

Nearly 30 percent of women say that experience has had a negative impact on them while using social networks.

A report out by the GSM Association, a trade body that represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide, indicates that women are 23 percent less likely to use mobile internet than men.

“On this international day of women's rights, Internet Without Borders reminds of the urgency to take action against all forms of online gender-based violence, particularly in regions of the world where they reinforce the inequalities to access the Internet and its opportunities,” it reads.

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