Judith shares her experience of online hate crime.
I blocked him straight away so I couldn’t receive any more abuse but I was completely shocked by how inhuman his comments were. Nobody should have to receive hate like that.
In Kenya attitudes towards people with disabilities are not always positive and discrimination can happen both in person and online. I have had my own experiences with online disability hate crime and have been determined not to let it discourage me from living my life positively.
During my second year of studying at university, I had decided to run for an elective post. The majority of my campaign was carried out on social media, which included WhatsApp. During my campaign, one member of the group publicly accused me of trying to get sympathy votes.
I was so disappointed by this attitude and the fact that my disability had become the focus. I was running for the post because I wanted to help make a difference and this outlook was taking away from that. However, I decided not to respond and did not let this person’s comments discourage me from continuing with my campaign. I wanted to show people all of the reasons why they should vote for me – not for sympathy, but because they agreed with my ideas. I was so glad I hadn’t been discouraged by the hurtful comments as I went on to win the position.
Unfortunately, this is not the only time I have had negative and degrading comments sent to me online. People can be very naive when it comes to disabilities and this can definitely shine through in their comments. In one unsettling experience a guy had asked me on WhatsApp if I was able to have a relationship — as if that wasn’t possible because of my disability — and if I’d have one with him.
I did not know him at all, so turned him down, but his response was very rude. He told me I was being difficult and since I didn’t have a leg I would be useless anyway. I blocked him straight away so I couldn’t receive any more abuse but I was completely shocked by how inhuman his comments were. Nobody should have to receive hate like that.
As a Community Based Rehabilitation/Livelihoods Officer I work with local communities to build the confidence of women and girls with disabilities so that they can never be taken advantage of when it comes to discrimination in their communities. While I personally try not to let this kind of discrimination get me down, I know it’s not as easy for other people. People should think before they take the time to write nasty things online, as you never know the affect it may have on other people.