Last night, there was commotion on Facebook about Nancy Binay. Yes, Nancy Binay again. Lucky girl, she didn’t have to spend for publicity because she’s getting so much. Anyway, there were articles posted online that she proposed E-VAW Law of 2013 (Electronic – Violence Against Women), a bill against “electronic violence”. She then defines E-VAW as the “use of computers to cause mental, emotional or psychological suffering to the victim”. Sounds familiar to you? Of course. This is just a spinoff of the Cybercrime law, which is also a spinoff of libel.
To be fair, the intentions were valid. After all, this thing really happens. I know of a lot of women who deactivated their Facebook and social media accounts because they were getting so much bad vibes online. And me referring to these things as “bad vibes” is me putting it gently. And God forbid, I really pitied Neri Naig (of the recent Chito-Neri scandal) and would give her a hug if I see her in person. She received a lot of bad vibes from that video too. Some suffer from long-term trauma, lack of self-esteem and other psychologically wounding circumstances just because they got bullied and judged online.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to us. One day we were only using the internet to send cheap mail, the next, we were parading a whole new self online. You can fake having a lovelife online. You can fake a lavish lifestyle. Hell, you can even fake your family online. It’s crazy.
Now that millions of us are holding multiple social media accounts online, I agree with the part where our government is taking steps to police our online behavior. What I don’t like is the redundancy of laws involved.
For example, I think the Cybercrime law was a joke. Say something “wrong” or “defamatory” on Facebook and you could get jailed for at least 6 years. I looked for other cases online and found one that was of attempted murder. The suspect got 2 years and 4 months of jail time. Moreover, there were redundant parts on the criminalization of cyber-prostitution, libel and unjust vexation. Why did we have to create a whole new law? Can’t we just amend the alredy existing ones and make them not lose the principle? We have to remind people that what we condemn is the act of maligning someone’s reputation, selling their flesh and causing other people psychological harm. Not because they used the Internet in doing so.
(See this related opinion article on Cybercrime)
Binay’s E-VAW is, cut plain and short, cyberbullying. Is there anything new to this? None. The harms are proven; giving punishment is justified. The only thing that’s making it stand out is its specialty towards women. I am a woman and of course there’s nothing against protecting women from cyberbullying. However, let’s not turn a blind eye on the fact that this also happens to men. And children. And they need to be protected too. I hope we can extend the same “e-protection” to them.
Forgot how badly kids respond to bullying? Forgot how many guys are afraid to come out just because they’re scared (or scarred) of being bullied online? Binay, I don’t think you can fake sainthood because you’re “protecting women”. Do better than this, girl. I know you can. There are still a lot of things that need to be worked out in the name of protecting women. Open up more hotlines for rape/ abuse reporting. Open up more women’s help desks in the provinces. Provide ample toiletries to all the women’s jails in the country. There’s still a lot, girl. We’re not giving up on you. Just do your job well and no more redundant laws, please.
PS She did not propose on the criminalization of internet memes, per se. Read the entire law before you judge. And seriously, you had to give that flak?! There are hundreds of other laws that need serious revision. God, sometimes memes are smarter than people.