Online Gender-Based Violence in Tanzania: A Crisis in the making.

Carol Ndosi
9 min readJul 27, 2023

This article aims to shed light on the growing yet often overlooked issue of online gender-based violence (GBV) in Tanzania drawing from LP Digital’s work on digital inclusion. Through various case studies and data-backed research, we aim to highlight this critical concern and the steps being taken to address it.

The Digital Frontier and Its Dark Side

In recent years, Tanzania has embraced the digital revolution with widespread use of the internet and digital technology. According to the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority — TCRA, June 2023 report states an annual internet subscription growth rate of 17% per year where In 2018 there were 23,808,94 subscriptions which increased to 34,045,384 subscriptions at the end of June 2023.

The digital landscape, however, is a double-edged sword. While it offers unprecedented opportunities for education, connection, and economic growth, it also presents new risks. One such peril is online gender-based violence (GBV), a phenomenon that has drastically increased and affects a significant portion of Tanzanian women and girls.

Understanding Online GBV

Online GBV encompasses various forms of violence and harassment targeted at individuals based on their gender. This includes but is not limited to cyberstalking, online harassment, non-consensual sharing of intimate images, and threatening messages. These actions not only violate a person’s rights and dignity but can also lead to significant psychological trauma. Here is an illustration explaining the different types of online gender based violence

The Reality in Tanzania

Insights collected from more than 500 women engaged directly from 2018 to 2022 through implementation of a project called Women at Web that was supported by DW Akademie and German Cooperation established online gender based violence as a major limitation towards meaningful connectivity for women second to digital literacy. Women at Web project was implemented across Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya with the objective of promoting women’s online participation and amplifying their stories.

Seeing online violence as a major challenge, In Tanzania, LP Digital as one of the project’s implementing partners, was able to reach a total of 497 women across professions and sectors who were trained in basic digital literacy skills tailor made to fit their personal and professional needs and were further equipped with digital resilience tools and tactics to safeguard their existence and navigation online. The program demonstrated an urgent need for more interventions and policy reforms particularly the current National ICT policy (2016), which does not specifically outline online gender based violence as a core issue.

Unfortunately, the true scale of the problem remains hidden due to underreporting, often stemming from fear of retaliation, shame, and the lack of legal and institutional support.

The takeaways from this project motivated LP Digital to go futher and develop mechanisms for reporting online violence and acting as an intermediary between respective stakeholders and victims of online gender based violence. With the power of digital storytelling, LP Digital was also able to amplify the severity of cases of non consensual sharing of intimate images which were gaining prevalance as per our Helpline report of 2020–2021.

Short film on Non Consensual Sharing of intimate images produced by LP Digital for the Women at Web Project-

Impact on Victims

Online GBV leaves victims feeling vulnerable and violated in their own homes, transforming digital spaces from potential zones of comfort and opportunity into areas of distress. The psychological impact can be profound, leading to anxiety, depression, and even self-harm. Additionally, these attacks often aim to silence and marginalize victims, depriving them of the opportunity to participate in digital spaces freely and productively.

LP Digital works with a pool of volunteer mental health professionals who provide psycho social safety guidance and counselling to victims and survivors of online gender based violence. However, because Mental wellness is still a very alien topic in Tanzanian communities most of the victims feel they have to overly justify the effects of OGBV to even the authorities in the case where they decide to go report, which discourages them from continuing with the process.

Our societies also do not make it better for the victims, where in most cases the incidences are being downplayed and effects undermined. It is important that more responsive interventions are established to allow for victims and survivors to have access to counselling services.

Efforts to Combat Online GBV

Addressing this issue requires a multi pronged approach.

1.Legislative efforts are crucial to define and criminalize online GBV. Tanzania has made strides in this regard, with the Cybercrimes Act of 2015 that criminalizes cyberbullying and online harassment. However, we need to be more concise and add sections that will specifically describe the types of online gender based violence and technology facilitated harassment against women.

The current law for instance criminalizes the production and distribution of pornographic materials which is where ‘nude photos’ fall under. in the case where even ‘intent’ can be established to support non consensual sharing of intimate images, the woman/girl is criminalised even if she did not intend for the photos to be for the public and i.e the content was distributed without her consent.

2.Public Education and Awareness: Non-profit organizations like LP Digital initiated the Women’s Digital Inclusion Coalition which has a stakeholder’s mapping of who is doing what in the areas of capacity building, advocacy and legal aid.

It is important to note the pioneering work Women at Web in Tanzania did since 2017 in designing advocacy and awareness campaigns on online gender based violence, with some of it’s successful campaigns being #MitandaoSalama and #MitandaoNaSisi. The campaigns aimed to raise awareness about the severity and impact of online GBV and shift societal attitudes, debunk myths, and educate the public about the nature and consequences of such violence.

Snapshot from LP Digital’s Edutaining Limited Series of Coco na Denge on Online Gender Based Violence —

3. Training and Capacity Building: Several organizations are focusing on digital literacy and safety training programs. These programs aim to empower women and girls, providing them with the knowledge and tools to protect themselves online. They are taught how to use privacy settings effectively, identify potential threats, and report incidents of online GBV. Through the Women at Web, LP Digital was part of the group that developed a digital resilience curriculum training that can be tailor made to fit women groups of different backgrounds.

Photo : Digital Resilience Training for Women in Politics and Media

4. Hotlines and Support Services: LP Digital has established a hotline and support services for victims of online GBV in partnership with WILDAF who provide legal aid in the case of access to justice. We also work with volunteer therapists who provide counselling to the victims. These services provide immediate assistance, guidance, and counseling to those who have experienced digital violence.

5. Research and Advocacy: LP Digital is currently finalizing a report called #SautiZao which is on co-creation of a solution to promote and protect youth and women’s voices online. The research to support this report was conducted to understand the extent and nature of online GBV in Tanzania and how it further perpetuates women’s digital exclusion. The evidence collected from this research and report will be used to advocate for stronger laws and policies, better implementation of existing regulations, and targeted interventions to address the problem.

6. Collaboration with Tech Companies: LP Digital has worked with META to run capacity building programs on their safety and community guidelines. However there needs to be more concerted global efforts to urge tech companies to take more responsibility for online safety. Through the helpline, LP Digital is a also a partner to STOP, an international organisation that uses AI in removing unconsented content online. However they are only able to do this with platforms who have agreed to the partnership. The likes of Twitter and Google are still missing from this consortium, additionally with the current retrenching of BIG Tech and their teams and operations in Africa, escalation of cases to their safety departments for action has been overly difficult if not addresses or responded to at all.

Big tech companies play a crucial role in addressing online gender-based violence (GBV). Here are some recommendations:

a. Implement Strong Community Standards: Tech companies should establish clear, robust guidelines against online GBV and hate speech, providing definitions and examples to ensure users understand what constitutes unacceptable behavior particularly in local languages. They should apply these rules consistently, irrespective of the user’s location or language.

b. Improve Moderation and Enforcement: Companies should invest in the resources necessary for enforcing their policies, including human moderators who understand the local context and languages of Sub-Saharan Africa. Algorithms can be utilized to detect harmful content, but they should be supplemented by human judgment, especially in complex cases.

c. Enhance Reporting Tools: User-friendly reporting tools should be provided so that victims of online GBV can easily report instances of abuse. These tools should cater to multiple languages and be accessible to users with varying degrees of digital literacy.

d. Faster Response Times: Tech companies should work towards faster response times to reported cases of online GBV. Delays can cause further harm to victims and allow abusive content to spread.

e. User Education: Companies should conduct digital literacy programs to educate users about online safety, privacy settings, and how to report abuse. They can collaborate with local NGOs and governments to make these programs more effective and culturally relevant.LP Digital has come up with a new initiative called ‘Mobile Digital Clinic’ where they will be moving around the outskirts of major cities and providing user education tips and tools for digital onboarding.

f. Develop Safety Features: Tech companies can develop more safety features, such as more granular privacy controls, options to limit who can comment or share posts, image blurring for potentially harmful content, and more.

g. Partner with Local Organizations: Partnerships with local organizations can help tech companies understand the unique challenges and cultural contexts of online GBV in Sub-Saharan Africa. Here one can also benefit from engaging with coalitions like the Digital Rights Coalition coordinated by Jamii Forums.

h. Transparency: Companies should provide regular, transparent reports about their efforts to combat online GBV. These should include statistics on the number of reported incidents, actions taken, and initiatives implemented. META and Twitter have been doing a commendable job on providing data on these areas.

9. Support Research: Tech companies can support research into online GBV in Sub-Saharan Africa to better understand the issue, design effective interventions, and measure the impact of their actions.

Online GBV is a global problem that requires concerted efforts from all stakeholders. Big tech companies, with their resources and reach, can significantly contribute to making online spaces safer and more inclusive.

However, given the dynamic nature of digital technology and the rapid changes in this field, it’s crucial to continuously update strategies and initiatives. As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, these were the key initiatives. Please research the most recent developments for the most accurate information.

Equally important is raising awareness about the severity and impact of online GBV. Public education campaigns can help debunk myths and shift societal attitudes. In this context, NGOs and community groups play a vital role and LP Digital are working tirelessly to create a safer digital environment for women.

Digital literacy and safety programs can empower users, particularly women and girls, to protect themselves online. Safe online habits, effective use of privacy settings, and knowing how to report incidents of online GBV are essential skills in the digital age.


Online gender-based violence is a complex issue that requires sustained and multifaceted efforts to tackle. As Tanzania continues to navigate the digital revolution, the focus must remain on ensuring that this progress benefits all individuals equitably and that digital spaces are safe and inclusive. The work towards this goal has begun, and it is up to all of us — governments, civil society, tech companies, and individual users — to contribute to this effort. As the 2023 theme for International Women’s Day insisted — DigitALL; In a world that is increasingly digital, no one should be left behind or silenced because of their gender.



Carol Ndosi

🇹🇿 |Development Advocate|#GlobalGoalsTZ Champion|Feminist|MWF ‘16|Social & Biz Entrepreneur @MaMaendeleo @nyamachomafest @bongofesttz @thelaunchpadtz