LAHORE: At least 22 social media accounts have been reported to the Federal Investigation Agency, FIA, by the organizers of Aurat March.
This was revealed to Digital Rights Monitor by Shmyla Khan, who manages the cyber harassment helpline at Digital Rights Foundation.
According to Shmyla, these accounts were reported to FIA in the wake of online threats faced by the organizers and participants of Aurat March. She further revealed that the helpline received complaints under following categories.
|Type of Complaints||Platform||Description|
|Abusive comments||Memes are being made out of her poster and people are posting abusive comments.|
|Non-consensual use of information, Bullying||Facebook, Instagram||Their picture had been stolen from a private portal and uploaded on Facebook as a meme. Certain individuals have commented with their full names with their personal profiles on social media revealing their identity.|
|Threat, bullying||Harmless picture of the girl was uploaded but it has created extreme problems at her home and she started receiving death threats.|
|Non-consensual use of information, Bullying||Stolen image being made into a meme and circulated on Twitter.|
|Nonconsensual use of information, defamation||TV||A television channel not only showed her picture without consent (and hence violating Twitter laws) but proceeded to talk negatively about the poster on TV while her face was visible on the screen.|
Protestors of #AuratMarch getting serious abuse online
Amidst all the questions regarding the very need for Aurat March, a number of women connected with the march are facing violent hate speech and incitement to violence. Targeted for the crime of staging a demonstration for their own rights, women and young girls, publicly aligning with the cause of women’s rights and offering vocal support to Aurat March, are being threatened with rape, acid crime and worse.
The hate being spewed against women online, appears to know no bounds. Various social media users have been flagging incidents of hate speech. According to a Twitter user Javeria, her sixteen year old sister was targeted by a group of boys for posting on Instagram in favor of Aurat March.
I have a 16 year old sister who posted on her Instagram supporting Aurat March and a random group of boys made a group just to abuse and harass her, calling her names and talking about doing shit with her. SHE IS JUST SIXTEEN.
— Javaria (@JavariaWaseem) March 11, 2019
She alleged that that the group of boys targeting her sister not only hurled abuses at her but also dragged her family while abusing them for participating in the Aurat March.
Renowned digital rights activist and one of the organizers of Aurat March, Lahore, Nighat Dad also took to twitter to complain about the rape and death threats that she received for taking part in the march.
This person @ishraq_shaka is giving me rape threats but thanks to twitter @jack who has not been taking any actions against hundreds of accounts who are giving rape and death threats to women who attended @AuratMarch cc @schemaly @TwitterSupport pic.twitter.com/EwCk7swPgV
— Nighat Dad (@nighatdad) March 12, 2019
Another twitter user also flagged a few social media accounts involved in issuing rape threats to the participants.
Spread this face everywhere. Everyone needs to know. pic.twitter.com/ipipbDb0Of
— Hullabaloo™ (@MahatmaaGanji) March 10, 2019
Digital Rights Monitor has reported various social media posts and users involved in incitement of violence against the demonstrators.
“The hate against Aurat March is demonstrative of the fact that the turn out and the zeal behind the march has touched a sore spot among of patriarchy. This is the main reason why, even days after the march, we are continuing to see hateful commentary, endless judgement and increasing threats of violence”, says Sadaf Khan, co founder Media Matters for Democracy, “The march has touched such a raw nerve, that people are actually investing in spreading misinformation to discredit the movement”.
Doctored images from the march, often containing sexual innuendos and falsified slogans are circulating. While some users are trying to raise awareness about these morphed images, the negative public sentiment is still keeping these falsified images in circulation.
Case in point, is a tweet by twitter used Nida Kirmani.
Doctored images of women holding signs are circulating on social media. Here is one example of my friend, Shahana Rajani. The fake one is on the left and the real one on the right. That people would stoop this low to undermine the #AuratMarch2019 says a lot about their mentality. pic.twitter.com/ga0LSermki
— Nida Kirmani (@nidkirm) March 10, 2019
Activists have complained of lax attitude on the part of social media giants to remove such posts.
In the backlash of the @AuratMarch2019 @AuratMarch, dozens of accounts have been reported by multiple users for threatening violence and targeted harassment against the women who marched, but @twitter @TwitterSupport says these threats don’t violate Community Standards. @jack
— Bina Shah (@BinaShah) March 11, 2019
Aurat March 2019 was held on March 08 as part of International Women’s Day celebrations in different cities including Lahore, Faisalabad, Islamabad, Peshawar, Karachi, Hyderabad and Larkana. People from diverse backgrounds came out on the roads in large numbers to express solidarity with women.
Talal Raza is a Program Manager at Media Matters for Democracy. He has worked with renowned media organizations and NGOs including Geo News, The Nation, United States Institute of Peace and Privacy International.