Radhika Jhalani, Legal Counsel SFLC.in, Civil Society, India
Hija Kamran, WRP and GenderIT coordinator and Editor APC. Pakistan
Afra Suci Ramadhan, Regional Project manager, Digital Defenders Partnership
Ellen Kusuma, Head of Digital at At-Risks, SafeNet
Arjun Adrian Dsouza
Arjun Adrian Dsouza
Targets: This is related to to creating a safe safe online for women and reducing gender discrimination
This will be a gathering with an open discussion format looking at contributing for the fight against Online Harrasement
In the past few years, Online Harassment has been identified as a major cause for curbing freedom of expression in the digital space and making it inaccessible. This harassment takes multiple forms like sending threatening messages, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, doxxing etc. More often than not the harassment is targeted at women and women belonging to marginalised communities. These are also aimed at prominent individuals who represent and express the concerns and narratives of this community. The result of such harassment is exclusion of some the most vulnerable sections of the society from the digital space. SFLC.IN has written a report on Online Harassment which can be accessed here: https://sflc.in/report-online-harassment-form-censorship. We also have a Free Speech Tracker which records instances of Free Speech violations by state actors. This helps us understand the broader issues revolving around freedom of speech and expression in the digital space. We would like to discuss our work so far, and how it can contribute to the existing discourse on online harassment and freedom of speech and the way forward. The session aims to identify the forms of harassment that take place online especially at the intersection of women and marginalised communities. How identity and the victim's relation to that identity is used by harassers. Further, the session will discuss the role of state actors and online platforms in creating safe spaces online.
We plan to conduct this meeting in an hybrid format, to enable greater participation for south Asian actors in participating in the conversations.
The session commenced with a brief outline of the contours of Online Harassment and its effect on women and women from marginalized societies. The speakers were asked questions on how state actors play a role in shaping the online space, the challenges faced by the speakers in defending digital rights for human rights defenders and journalists, lived experiences and insights of the speakers in their respective roles.
The entailing discussion was an engaging and critical conversation on the various challenges faced in the creation of a free and safe online space for women. An underlying theme of the discussion was the evident imbalance in the freedom of expression for women in the online space owing to several reasons, such as, harassment, stalking, voyeurism, and lack of support from law enforcement.
The speakers gave an impactful overview of the harmful effects that laws and the police enforcing such laws have on women in the online space. Oftentimes, women who voice their opinion against certain policies face unwarranted backlash from bad actors which has become increasingly prevalent today. The importance of handbooks or practical guides was brought to light for developing a way to help women facing harassment take the most reasonable and safe recourse. Her experience in operating a Helpline for women and girls facing harassment in Indonesia provided the audience with a lot of context on how to tackle such relevant issues. The guidebook has become a helpful ally for women facing harassment in Indonesia and provides them recourse in the form of legal and psychological assistance. There was a discussion on the significance of conducting digital security training to equip women and those from marginalized groups to defend themselves responsibly.