In India, as elsewhere in the world, online violence against women and gender minorities is rampant, in contrast to Internet’s initial premise of equal opportunity and neutrality. What we have today is a flawed internet that reflects the offline world we live in, where women and marginalized communities are abused, harassed, threatened, stalked and violated on a daily basis.
Here are some digital security tips to keep yourself protected from online abuse and violence, by Japleen Pasricha, Founder-Director of Feminism in India, on this Safer Internet Day 2019.
This video is a part of our larger campaign #DigitalHifazat, which advocates for online safety for women and gender minorities.
In 2016, we launched the #DigitalHifazat campaign alongside our research report that studied how women are subject to online violence during the 16 Days of Activism. The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence is a global campaign that was started in 1991.The campaign hopes to raise awareness about gender-based violence as a human rights issue at the local, national, regional and international level.
Based on the findings of our research report, we advocated for a safe and secure internet for all using articles and videos to illustrate the rampant nature of online violence against women.
In 2017, we expanded this campaign to take a broader look at the ways in which women experience the internet – both good and bad. The internet can be a space of violence, but also one of empowerment. We looked at ways in which women use the internet to fight back against oppressive systems of power that seek to limit their voice and expression.
Furthermore, oppression is intersectional, and we hoped to display how different communities of women in India experience the internet – their struggles, their victories, how it empowers them and how they envision #DigitalHifazat – situated within their specific sociopolitical identities and experiences.
With this in mind, we launched a series of 4 videos that answered the questions we had about how women used the internet. The first video was a crowdsourced video where 6 young women spoke about their experiences of the internet in response to an open call on our social media platforms. This was followed by women with disabilities, Dalit women and finally, queer women (and queer Dalit women!), talking about their challenges and victories in the online sphere.
Now, we discuss ways in which vulnerable communities can protect themselves on the internet. What strategies do you use to combat online violence and keep yourself safe? Share with us in the comments!