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Social Media Enhanced Egyptian Females’ Response to Domestic Violence: Study

Many of the battered women had access to social media platforms amid the rising likelihood of domestic violence against women in Egypt during the COVID-19 lockdown. This helped them become more aware of where to obtain tools and support to deal with the abuse.

Domestic violence was reported by 36% of married Egyptian women between the ages of 15 and 49 in 2015.

Researchers found that during the pandemic, receiving videos or reminders increased media consumption about domestic violence against women. This increased women’s knowledge of the resources available as well as increased women’s hypothetical use of some resources in responding to violence, according to a new study published on August 7 in “Nature Human Behavior.”

According to the survey, opinions toward marriage, sexual assault, and gender equality have not changed over time.

The authors sent video clips and reminders to watch TV programs by an Egyptian human rights lawyer that focused on her work on gender stereotypes and violence to a sample of Egyptian women who were recruited via Facebook and WhatsApp for the study.

“We recruited women through Facebook ads, distributed among age groups in each governorate across Egypt. Women who completed a baseline survey and expressed a desire to receive information about women’s issues in Egypt were randomly assigned to different treatment arms,” said Horacio Larreguy, Associate Professor of Economics and Political Science at the Independent Technology Institute of Mexico (ITAM) and co-author of the study.

Researchers conducted the study in collaboration with the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights in Cairo to evaluate the effects of its “You Are Not Alone” media campaign’s publication. 10,000 women were surveyed for the first time via Facebook by the researchers, and 5,618 of them were enrolled in the trial, which ran from July to September 2020. The participants were between the ages of 18 and 55.

Over the course of eight weeks, according to Larreguy, the first group received WhatsApp messages informing them of the time and platform of the TV broadcast. Over an eight-week period, participants in the remaining three groups were sent thirteen messages via Facebook or WhatsApp that contained links to a website that posted YouTube videos.

“After providing the targeted content, we conducted a final survey to explore how the treatments shaped their attitudes, knowledge, and behaviours. The group received all intervention content upon completion of the final line survey.”

The information offered by the Egyptian lawyer in the films that addressed issues of domestic abuse and gender-based violence, including concerns like workplace harassment, and increased women’s awareness of legal resources and support organizations was the targeted intervention’s content.

The study’s co-author emphasized that there were two key reasons why only women participated in the experiment in Egypt without men. The first has to do with the Egyptian Center’s actual content, which focuses primarily on women. The second purpose was to protect women from the possibility of being subjected to online harassment if they were included in mixed-sex groups.

The experiment’s participants viewed 2.6 episodes and visited the website hosting the video shows in about 45% of cases, among other outcomes. Personalizing WhatsApp messages had the most effect on how many people watched shows. Conversely, WhatsApp group messages sent to groups of 8 to 12 women at once had reduced engagement, with just around 9% of group messages leading to lengthy discussions about the subject.

According to the authors, only 28% of the women who had been polled before the trial were aware of any internet resources, and only 22% of them were aware of any groups that helped women who were victims of gender-based violence.

The authors performed a second follow-up study in September and October 2020 with 4,165 women. The researchers discovered that taking part in the trial, learning about the resources, and even viewing some encouraging information did not alter the participants’ ingrained underlying attitudes regarding women’s place in society.

Source: Daily News Egypt

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