Online Sexual Harassment against Women in Ethiopia: Legal and Practical Challenges

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The internet has provided many benefits to the world. Women are one part of the society who have benefited immensely from it. They, however, have also becomevictims to the dark side of the internet. Thistechnological advancement has enabled violence against women to take up yet another form, one of which is online sexual harassment. Online sexual harassment is hardly a new phenomenon. It is in fact a mimic of the gender based violence already happening in the society which stands in the way of citizens from enjoying their lives and work free of violence. Due to the vast expansion in the ICT sector, the commission of cyber-crimes in Ethiopia including online sexual harassment is on the rise. Ethiopian women are enduring the multifaceted effect of the crime in their social and economic aspects of their lives not to mention the effect it has on their psychological and physical wellbeing. Thus, this research sets out to investigate the effects of online sexual harassment on survivors as well as the legal frameworks available for survivors to get a legal redress. To do so, a qualitative research method is employed where primary data is gathered using in-depth interview and key informant interviews while analyzing the computer crime proclamation. Moreover, the research is supported by relevant secondary sources from different books, articles, journals and internet websites. Ethiopia has adopted different policies and laws as well as put in place different institutional mechanism to fight against cyber-crimes including online sexual harassment. The most relevant instrument in this regard is the computer crime proclamation. Online sexual harassment is incorporated in the proclamation among other cybercrimes. The proclamation also designates law enforcement organs for the investigation and prosecution of online sexual harassment. However, the study found that the technicality of the proclamation as well as the vague, broad and general drafting of the provision dealing with online sexual harassment creates a gap in the actual implementation of the law. Moreover, the study revealed that human and institutional capacity of the law enforcement organs are not up to par with the level of sophistication the investigation of online sexual harassment requires.