Journal article

Mobile phones, gender-based violence, and distrust in state services: Case studies from Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea

Violence Mobile phones Community-based social services Gender-based violence Pacific people Solomon Islands Papua New Guinea

This paper examines the potential benefits and pitfalls of mobile phones for accessing social services, particularly in response to gender-based violence, in Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. Drawing on 13 months of ethnographic field research, I show how mobile phones increase rather than decrease perceived distances between social service providers and those they intend to serve. Mobile phones exaggerate the visibility of the shortcomings of the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea states and solidify an already entrenched distrust in the state and state services. This distrust is accentuated in experiences with mobile phonebased mediations of gender-based violence. Despite the positive influences of mobile phones, they are also recognised as conduits of violence. As such, mobile phones are not only morally ambivalent technologies but also, at times, actively disliked and their use discouraged. This challenges the optimism that surrounds many information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D) projects. When assessing the potentials, successes, and failures of ICT4D programmes, there is a need to pay more attention to the consequences of ‘negative’ or ‘unreliable’ usages of mobile phones as relational technologies

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