Tag: #cyber law

Trolling and Online violence against women by Dhananjay Bhati

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Online trolling is one of the most prominent types of cyber victimization of women in the present age and it is least taken care of by criminal justice machinery. It is indeed the most prevalent form of abuse against women and it’s an alarming human rights issue. Online abuse of women may include various forms including bullying, trolling, stalking, misogynist comments, racial bullying etc. Trolling have heavy potential of damaging honor or reputation of women. Trolling can be defined as ‘an extreme usage of freedom of speech which is exercised to disrupt the community discussions in social networking sites and which is done to deliberately insult ideologies such as feminism, secularism etc.; of the topic starter or the supporters of the topic starter.’[1] In this digital era, most people consider internet as a podium which provides them the anonymity to victimize others. As a result, the potential perpetrator including the troll is often encouraged to create more havoc with the victim’s life and freedom. Unfortunately, the internet has always been a hostile place for women. Trolling including misogynistic trolling is one of the worst forms speech which has often escaped the clutches of law due to carious reasons .[2] Trolling not only infringes privacy of the victims, it also affects women’s right to participate in economic, social and political affairs. Women in India have reported facing severe online abuse on the socio-verbal platform #Twitter.[3] Trolls have used racial, sexist, homophobic or misogynist to belittle or degrade women’s identity or social status. In most instances, trolls may be complete strangers who would come up for trolling for fun .[4] Unfortunately there is no focused law for regulating trolls or trolling. The exact nature and scale of online abuse by women because of trolling in the Indian context is still under-researched. Amnesty International’s Decoding Project, “Troll Patrol India”[5] is currently researching on this very issue. This project is encouraging researchers/ volunteers to analyse the nature of trolling and report the trolls . It has been noticed that pre and post general elections 2019 in India, there were huge incidents of trolling targeting women including female politicians, journalists, lawyers etc . The social media platforms such as Twitter where the instances of online abuse are most prevalent, need to take responsibility of protecting human rights of women to ensure that women using this platform are able to freely and fearlessly express their thoughts. The Troll Patrol India Project has engaged over 1500 Decoders from all over the country that has analyzed over 4 lakh comments that include homophobic language, explicit sexist, racist, ethnic or religious slurs.  Misogynist, racist trolling is showing no sign of slowing down especially towards the women. Amnesty International’s Decoding Project aims to research on typology of abusive Tweets targeting women. The project will form a considerable pool of research to impart light on how these trolls may dissuade women from freely posting their views on online platforms such as Twitter. In recent times, there have been many ‘women in tech’ initiatives, and things are changing ponderously but it is important to make the internet a safer platform for women. After all, it is necessary to protect the freedom of speech and expression of every woman by ensuring them their online privacy and a safe online environment. The need of the hour is to tackle online violence against women very seriously to uphold women and their enshrined rights in India. Surely, the intermediaries must have to play a bigger role in reaching out to this balance to provide women their online safety. 

   

*Dhananjay Bhati. BBA-LLB, 3rd year, Unitedworld School of Law, Karnavati University. The author is also a project member (Amnesty Decoder) of the Amnesty Decoding Project, Amnesty International India.   The author can be reached @ bhati.dhananjay25@gmail.com

  **This write up has been conceptualized by the author from the Amnesty Decoding Project. 

[1] Halder, D. (2013). Examining the scope of Indecent Representation of Women (Prevention) Act, 1986 in the light of cyber victimization of women in India. National Law School Journal, Vol. 11, 118-218 at p. 196.

[2] Bartlett, J. (2018, March 1). The Trolling and abuse of women rooted in online cultures. Retrieved from https://medium.com/@jamie.bartlett/the-trolling-and-abuse-of-women-rooted-in-online-cultures-667a54d4f88d

[3] Available at https://decoders.amnesty.org/projects/troll-patrol-india.

4] Pinto, S. ( 2017, November 20). What is online violence and abuse against women. Retrieved from https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/campaigns/2017/11/what-is-online-violence-and-abuse-against-women/.

[5] Available at https://decoders.amnesty.org/projects/troll-patrol-india.

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