Protecting women’s rights: Internet content from a gender perspective
17 SEPTEMBER 10
PROTECTING WOMEN'S RIGHTS:
INTERNET CONTENT FROM A GENDER PERSPECTIVE
Note: The following is the output of the real-time captioning taken during Fifth Meeting of the IGF, in Vilnius. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the session, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
>> JAN MALINOWSKI: Good morning. Good morning, everyone. And welcome to this workshop on "Protecting Women's Rights: Internet Content From a Gender Perspective". The workshop is organised by the APC, the Association for Progressive Communication. And in particular it's Women's Networking Support Programme. And by the Council of Europe, the gender equality division in the organisation.
I would like to start by congratulating the IGF organisers for having selected this topic I think it's a very important subject that needs to be discussed. And I'm sure that our discussions that will come all right will show precisely the importance of the subject.
I regret nonetheless that while the subject was very rightly chosen as a feeder subject for the main session on Access and Diversity, it is a pity that it comes two days after the session and question took place.
So it's not really going to feed into it. But hopefully it will have an impact on future discussions in IGF and Internet Governance contexts.
We have two hours to deal with this very important topic. We have two precious hours as I hope that we will be able to profit from to the maximum.
It is an important topic. Because it affects or it can affect or concern half of the Internet user population. But also, half of the population worldwide.
The online activities, the online content, the online realities have an impact on the offline realities, as well.
So I think that we have to bear that in mind.
We are talking about women's rights. What are these rights? We are talking about the same rights as for other people. We are talking about freedom of expression. Privacy, freedom to associate. But we are talking about other issues, as well.
We are talking about discrimination. We are talking about violence. Abuse. Harassment. exploitation.
This is a reality offline. It is a reality that we have known for a very long time. It is a reality online, as well. What are the consequences?
What are the constraints in order to deal with that reality?
We have overriding rules concerning freedom of expression, for example. If there is content that has an impact on women's rights, how do we deal with it? There are risks involved in addressing the issue from a policy perspective because there can be abuse of policy measures. They can be misused for other purposes. We have to bear that into account. But there may be opportunities, as well. Perhaps we will be in a position to explore the opportunities that we have ahead of us in governance terms that's -- we are in the Internet Governance Forum what are the governance responsibilities that we can give to the service governance in terms of potential policy responses but also in respect of the possibility of participation. What is the women's role in the governance of the Internet and how that can affect the realities that we are confronted with.
I think that we have to address this subject trying to be as open minded as possible. And that is a very, very difficult issue. It's a very difficult thing. Because we have a big charge, a big load of prejudice, of educational bias of unconscious bias.
That is very difficult to overcome.
We have thousands of years of programming and condition and education that it has built up inequalities, discrimination.
We have developed in humanity very sophisticated tools in order to consolidate and in order to perpetuate the inequalities, the discrimination and so on and so forth.
So how can we address the subject in an unbiased way. It's very difficult.
Look at me for example. I am told that I am wearing a symbol of a male -- of male domination. My time is described as a symbol of male domination.
In the IGF context we see many times not in this room. I'm curious. I'm going to take it off. It's going to be a symbolic gesture. But I'm going to take it off to try to show that we need to rid ourselves of the bias. We need to talk about these things, trying to leave behind all of the negative charge, the education, the load that makes us less than impartial, less than capable fully of examining this.
And in order to explore together this matter, we have an excellent panel. We have two excellent speakers that will open up the discussion, that will give us a few lines in order to see how we can map out the issue and consider it. We have Katharine Sarikakis who is a policy export in communication and culture. She's a professor at the University of Leeds, a lecturer. And she is a recognized expert. Has written a lot about these matters. Articles and books. And she has been acting as an expert for a number of organisations, both governmental and international. So I think that there we will have very interesting material to consider.
And we have Maya Indira Ganeshi, who has -- Ganeshi. Who has considerable experience in providing support to women who have been the victims of abuse or discrimination. Who is an independent researcher. She has a background in psychology, media and culture. And more recently she has conducted research in respect of women's conduct online. And their own perception about the online reality. And also in respect of the offline implications of that. I think that will be a very interesting marker for our discussion.
And we are supported by Jac sm Kee, who is going to be our interface with the remote participation. And perhaps I should also -- she is from the association for progressive Communication. And I should I guess also introduce myself. I'm Jan Malinowski. I'm a staff member of the Council of Europe. And I deal with freedom of expression issues. I don't deal with gender equality issues. But I hope I am sensitive to gender-related issues.
So now without going into any further detail, I would like to give the word to Maya who will talk to us for a few minutes about her research. About what particular segment of Internet users in a particular region perceive and use, how they engage with the Internet and the Internet content and what does that mean for. Maya, the floor is yours.
>> MAYA INDIRA GANESHI: Thank you, Jan. Good morning. My name is Maya Indira Ganeshi. And I live and work in Bombay in India. And I'm going to talk about an APC project that a colleague, Manjima Bhattacharjya, and I have worked on for the past two years. The project is called EroTICs, which stands for the Exploratory Research on ICTs and Sexuality. This is a five country study that investigates how practices around -- and debates around Internet regulation affect women's sexuality and communication rates. EroTICs has been done in five countries so far including India there's also the United States, Brazil, South Africa and Lebanon and each of the studies take a local perspective, a local view on how the Internet facilitates the experiencing of the sexuality rights as well as how regulation limits these rights among marginalized communities and context on the form of Internet law and policy so I'm here to talk about the EroTICs project in India which Manjima and I have worked on what we did was decided to try to map the context of law and policy with regard to sexuality and content regulation but we were also very keen to do primary research to talk to Internet users and particularly women users because we felt that we rarely get to hear the voices of women users themselves.
We're fed statistics. And there's a lot of media reporting on the Internet and how it's being used. But we would rarely come across sort of first person narratives so we did interviews in Bombay and we also filled in questionnaires with about 150 young people across colleges in the city and what I'm going to do is I'm going to tell you a little bit about the background of content regulation in India and I would like to talk a little bit about the offline and online context of what it means to be a woman in India and how women use the Internet and then to focus specifically on the kinds of harm that women face online. And it is really our hope that though this is a small study, I think -- I believe it is significant. And there needs to be more work. Because I don't think we have enough evidence-based policy making in India on regulation and governance issues, especially when it comes to marginalized communities and women.
We have heard a lot about the diversity of India at this conference. The implications of it. The size and you know what it means for access to the Internet and policy making. Yes, it is complex to live in a diverse country. But I think it's also really important to focus on -- to focus on particular communities. It becomes difficult when you have to make policies for -- based on the lowest common denominator. So I am going to be talking about a very specific community. We did not research the access of you know the women the so-called information world the suffering masses of India no we didn't do that -- we looked at urban middle class low middle class multilingual women in Bombay. And this is actually one of the fastest growing largest groups of Internet users. Most of the people we spoke to were in the 18 to 25 age group which is the largest growing demographic of Internet users and though the entire study looked at women right up to the age of 54.
So a wide variety of women who access the Internet at home on their mobile phones in cyber cafes and places of work.
However, irrespective of the kinds of privilege that these women may have, I think what is a level for women in India is encountering surveillance constantly from what you wear who you talk to who you marry or don't marry whether you have children or not a woman is constantly being watched and monitored for how appropriately she fits certain ideas for what it means to be Indian and female so regulation by parents, family, school religion, the state, culture are pretty much the norm.
And at the same time much of being a woman in India is also about finding ways to negotiate, resist and manage the surveillance from the environment.
And this sort of regulation of women also helps to maintain a certain idea of Indian culture and a number of feminist academics have talked about how the regulation of women's bodies is a way of perpetuating certain fixed ideas of Indian culture and Indian values and womanhood the offline space does have implications for how women use the online space. And I don't mean to create some kind of divide between the two. What I would like to show, what I hope to show is there's a very real connection between the two, quite an organic connection. But I'm going to briefly move to telling you just a little bit about content regulation and information regulation in India.
We have an IT law it's called the Information Technology Act. And there's a number of people who critiqued it. For a variety of reasons. It is quite a vague, broad law. Fairly non-specific but it uses some interesting words like cyber terrorism for example and says that it wants to try to regulate content in the interest of national security. However these things never really get defined making it very easy to bring a number of issues under the scanner.
What we found interesting when we first came across this law was that a state that has typically been quite woolly and slow and confused about developing laws for policing offline sexual harassment and violence has been really clear in naming sexual harassment and abuse and violence in the online space.
However, we did not feel that the true extent of the harms that women face comes through in the law nor does it recognize that users and victims of various kinds of abuse and violence also have their own agency.
Obscene content, indecent content, sexually explicit content, however you want to describe it and define it is something that the Indian state has a great deal of experience and skill in identifying. And the threats to Indian culture loom quite large in the state's imagination somewhat hyperactive imagination. In 2009 June 2009 the Government of India blocked a site called savitabhabhi.com we all know there's vast amounts of pornography on the Internet and on the Indian Internet as well this is actually a cartoon porn site who gained fans from across the world she details the sexual adventures of a good regular Indian housewife in comic cartoon format I'm going to briefly call up the homepage. So it's all cartoons, comics. I would urge you to have a look at Savita Bhabhi when you have the time. Not right now.
Savita Bhabhi was blocked last year because of how it was perceived to be degrading to Indian womanhood and feminity but of course it's the Internet so there are ways to get around the blocks and bans so very soon there were save this campaigns and people found various sites through which they can access it and now it's pretty easy to get this. What it did do for myself personally I got kind of complacent thinking maybe we get paranoid sometimes about how the state behaves and acts and they are not really that bad but when it did happen it was a real jolt to me because we are also just starting on this project and I was like oh my goodness they have actually done it it's something that's so harmless why would you want to do something like that also interesting in the six months between June and December last year when we were doing our data collection Google brought out these statistics on different governments making requests to pull down data to block content and we found it really interesting that India was No.
3 on the list. Let's see here . . .
And there's all this perception in India that we can be quite progressive and everything and it's only sort of Islamic nations Arab countries they are the ones who are sort of blocking content and restricting their women so it was really interesting that India was No. 3 on that list.
So regulation is something that's very real. And it's there it's not paranoia and not a figment of our imagination so this was a part of how we mapped the context of the erotics research and Manjima and I also went back to the 1940s looking at different ways in which the state has to censor the different kinds of content for it's sexual explicitness fine arts music cinema, literature, advertising have over the years been blocked banned and censored because of the state's concern for what it does to their notion of Indian values and culture.
And -- but house -- what citizens think about this content is rarely if ever taken into consideration.
So that's kind of the background.
And I'm going to move to giving you some -- giving you some details about the research that we did. And what women said in their interviews. And there was a lot of detail that we managed to pack into the interviews but I'm going to focus for now on online harm because that is the emphasis of this session and also because it's the sort of protectionist tenor of law and policy comes from a certain understanding of vulnerability. That there are dangers on the Internet. So therefore we need to protect people. But we wanted to understand what is online harm as users experience it? The law talks about cyber stalking, cyber harassment, the exploitation of children, but we just felt there was a lot more that was getting missed. So the Internet, according to women, is a space that allows them to bypass the surveillance of the offline space.
Women have to often negotiate intrusive stares and a discomforting male gaze but via the Internet they can enter quite smoothly into an online public space wearing what they want at whatever time they want especially considering that nighttime is a time of restricted mobility for women in India particularly young women. And they can safely present themselves online however they want. However the online world also has its own rules and surveillance usually from peers, from known people, potential partners and must also be negotiated the way that the offline world is so a cluster of themes arise when talking about the perils and the harms that women face online. There's -- and given the age bracket of women we interviewed, there was a lot of discussion, a lot of talking about social networking sites about chat forums.
Young women of course talked about it much more extensively older women also use these spaces and sites so a lot of the discussion is through those sites and Skype and things like that.
So there's deceptions. There's -- and risks of online chatting and social networking. There's hacking into e-mail accounts. There's manipulation of images. The fear of manipulation of personal images and of data. Unwanted attention from people online, verbal harassment. Spam, and viruses were something that women repeatedly mentioned which kind of surprised us, fraud, embezzlement, concerns about doing economic transactions online. And more than anything else it was this very complicated connection between the offline and the online world.
As much as women feel that the online is a kind of safe if masked space, there's still a lot of concern about the connection between the two spaces.
Interestingly from our quantitative survey, we felt that respondents said that viruses and things like Web sites were more harmful than pornography and unfortunately more harmful than advertisements for the sex selection of fetuses. I'm going to tell you about some things that -- some stories from our narratives. There's someone called Rati who chatted with a stranger for a few months she was trying to find a date and she eventually found that he grossly misrepresented himself and you know sort of portrayed himself as being this fantastic god when actually he wasn't. A respondent talks about being befriended and led on by a man and it was a woman and it was only when she met him in perception that she discovered this misconception and she felt appalled that he had access to her relationships someone called Sheka found something that seems very promising can go very sour looking for a marriage partner on a very, very popular matrimonial site. She met someone online from another city and her parents were also very supportive of her being online and trying to find a partner online, arranged matrimonials are very common in India now so they pursued an online relationship for a few months and then they had a fight and she said I kept ignoring him.
Then he really started harassing and threatening me saying he would tell people publicly private things I had said to him it took a long time to block him and get him out of my networks. Women are tired of being not trustful of people they meet online the other annoying aspect of being online and online chatting is how men pester women online this ranges from harmless opening lines like ASL like age sex location to very direct things are you horny give me your phone number let's have phone sex, things like that. And in their narratives and instructed responses their interviewers also filled in some questionnaires, 54% felt that getting unwelcome attention being bothered on Skype or social networking sites by people who want to become your friend or contact was very intrusive. Of course women don't believe these gam bits these opening lines will do very much for these hopefuls but it's still very much part of what it means to be online a young girl says once a guy on Oracle stole my entire ID he just used my picture and name and used it to make another ID he did things under favorite movies he listed porn movies and stuff when that fake profile of mine was created by someone else that was very harassing I usually don't care about these things but when strange guys call you up and ask you how much you are charging for sex it feels bad then there was an incident of hacking someone when into my profile and deleted it so I'm one of those girls who don't give you so yeah if you're one of those that don't give you then let's play around and these are the narratives of two other people, as well in that.
The manipulation of personal information and identity can be particularly devastating for women because they have implications for image and reputation because image and reputation are linked to family honour and to your family's name. So therefore things like suggesting you watch porn movies and are a prostitute these are quite harassing for women harassing on social networking sites is not unusual. We did a sort of a scan of the ePaper archives in the Bombay edition and the Mumbai Mirror for a six month period and we found that the Mirror ran 44 stories on cyber crimes and 65 stories mentioning the word Facebook. Averaging about two stories a week in the six month period the Mirror stories tend to be more cautionary with articles related to social networking warnings about chat and digital footprints the loss of business hours due to chats.
Stories in the time include youth specific cyber crimes related to the creation of profiles. Matrimonial sites receiving videos of bullying or pornographic of unsuspected classmates taking revenge on teachers or fellow students by giving false information on the Internet or attempts to con authorities like the please in one story two young boys were arrested for setting up a young teacher where they called her a black prostitute and posted photographs of her they were after revenge when she graded them poorly the latest story of 2009 was a man fired from his job after taking pictures of a female co-worker as revenge for being fired he created an awkward profile for her featuring a pornographic film her phone number address and tag line for physical relation please contact me.
But social networking sites are hard to resist and while there's an understanding of privacy settings, there are -- that are supposed to protect you from strangers there's little that prevents known people from taking advantage of the access they have to you. The incidents that I've just mentioned and the fears that women have suggest that stalking, harassment, manipulation and harm that comes from known people and intimate people are as significant as the threats that come from strangers. And if anybody has ever done work on violence against women, you know that in offline violence as well it's the people who are closest to you and people who know you that are very often perpetrators of violence in fact one of the first cases of cybercrime conviction in India was of somebody who was a family friend of the victim and we came across this and it was this great reminder of how you know offline harm and online harm, their sort of connections are quite clear there.
Dealing with the intrusions and omissions and commissions from people who are known is much harder for young women to deal with. And women also are very conscious of online behavior and reputations being policed by offline norms and social -- social norms and regulations.
You have offline social expectations prescribing premarital dating and sex there's an expectation that a young woman who is not married will have untarnished reputation that will ensure marriage prospects young women feel being -- fear being betrayed by boyfriends and others who could report the online activity to people who exist offline and there's a fear of punishment when somebody finds out what you're doing online all of these things are generated by the people closest to women and it's not that women -- that the women we spoke to, it's not that they sort of had secret lives as porn stars online. They were doing very regular kinds of things. They were just trying to find boyfriends, dates, make friends in foreign countries. So it's nothing really very you know extreme that they were doing. But there's still a lot of watchfulness.
However women are very clear that you have to learn how to manage your image and reputation. I think Indian women are quite adapt at doing this like 19 year old says you have to manage your reputation. And if there is any untoward attention that you get online, it will be assumed that you asked for it so you have to be careful. A 19 year old male respondent that we spoke to concurs that for Indian people image is prestige dignity is the main thing if they are affected, they are gone. And he says boys play pranks using the net. I don't think it's right. Nobody will dig your past but if she's a girl it will have a bad effect in her life and I want to tell you about one more incident of a young woman journalist who was victimized of her online behavior by offline colleagues and this is from the interview transcript in my first job I had Internet access and I used to surf on the net a lot I was on the dcdikes list and gay.com and there was never and the word never in capital letters any porn that I looked at my first ID e-mail ID was on excite.com I was relatively new to the net so I think I downloaded a virus by mistake and that spread -- she did this in the office and that spread to all of the other computers so the office IT people came in and checked all of other personal browsing histories.
And it quickly spread around that I had looked at these queer sites and I was hauled up for it by my editor for using the Internet for personal gain and the editor who also went on to reveal to everyone that I was looking at gay sites that's somehow she outed me it was devastating and terribly humiliating because I had no choice in letting everyone in the office know that I'm guy there was a guy in the office who used to play online games constantly but no one ever said anything to him about personal gain so when this happened I began to wonder if this was homo phobia as well I ended up getting fired from this job and it took me a long time to recover I had no voice or no community I was new to the city and just began my career if this happened now I would be much better equipped to deal with it so eventually there's a whole universe around morale and society around notions of shame and honour that curtail the agency and freedom that young women experience in the online world.
So that's sort of a sense of the range of harms. And of course there's much more detail that -- when our study is online and accessible you'll be able to read about the details within that.
I would like to now move to talking about what women do about the various kinds of harm that they face online, what are their strategies to be safe and how do they negotiate themselves in online spaces one young respondent said to us the Internet has its dangers but it's not a dangerous place so we were very encouraged to find that while women do face things that are offensive, intrusive and abusive, they are not victimized into inaction if anything I think we found that a sense of confidence and mastery develops in dealing with this kind of behavior. So blocking people, ignoring them, signing out consistently avoiding offensive people is how they retaliate people who regularly chat online particularly older women quickly learn a few home truths about online chatting and this is from a couple of women we interviewed who were separated from their husbands or who were holder and hadn't gotten married for whatever reason were looking at partners and using dating sites and social networking sites so one of them says online is just for chatting and fun not for relationships and long term.
50 year old divorcee says it is critical to rely on your instincts and gut feelings that you use in everyday life these are not to be suspended when you are online especially on chat I use my gut instincts to figure out people and read them carefully.
The other thing that women are very, very aware of is the giving out of personal information and details, not divulging location data. Not allowing access to personal photographs. These are all strict don'ts. As Punita says you should secure your ID block users you don't want don't make random friendships once in a blue moon I make friends with strangers not regularly I don't use my real name or location in chats.
But how do you find an online date if you do want to have sort of romantic relationships online, how do you separate the wheat from the chaff. And we found it interesting when we were analyzing our data we were able to come up with something that we call How to Find an Online Date In Five Steps. You know we never asked a question specifically about how do you separate the wheat from the chaff but we were -- we managed to collate it from the different strategies that women talked about.
So No. 1, first check out his Facebook profile on Yahoo chat there can be people with fake IDs and you know if someone is fake if their profile doesn't have comments if he isn't a member of any communities if there are no friends or photos or videos always check that Mina 24 told us that next exchange e-mails to see if there's some compatibility and if you can have a good conversation be aware of the information you're giving out never use webcams for chat in the beginning don't divulge your personal identification especially telephone numbers and location data be aware that you are in a public forum and talking about yourself even though it may be a private conversation then exchange more e-mails make sure that you have a connection. Then exchange more e-mails. Next if the relationship progresses well move to having phone conversations. The last and final stage and only if you are very, very sure is to meet offline.
So these are sort of like five stages and steps however there's never any guarantee that even the most cautious measures won't result in heartbreak. A 27 year old says having recently being dumped by someone she enjoyed an online relationship with one has to realise that the Internet is just a medium which lends itself to use as well as misuse if one chooses to go on a certain path they must own up to one's choice and take responsibility for one's actions as well as one's safety there was a high degree of awareness about this thing that popularly called mix matching which is the morphing and manipulation of personal images and that -- very innocent kinds of images can be used to advertise sexual content or can be used in sexual content and we had one young male respondent who went so far to say that this could happen because he had actually done it.
And so it was sort of like interesting to hear women responding to things like that. They were very, very cautious.
We spoke to someone who was 45 years old. She confessed to being awkward online and with new technologies she summed up her approach to online safety saying it is like when you travel to a new city and you have to be safe and aware and keep your wits about you with the Internet your maturity level increases you're on your own and you learn on your own.
Yet women find ways -- more ways to get around the kinds of harms they face. And they were very blase about having two digital profiles one for family and the other for friends as part of their routine online identity management.
However, there are very few strategies to protect yourself from being judged by your family. And as one young woman said my worst Internet experience was when that guy was after me I didn't like it I think it must be happening to many girls maybe even worse than my case I'm not sure what one can really do maybe the girl should tell her family and they can help her but it depends on the family they might tell her to stop going on the Internet to stop chatting so then it's better to keep quiet and deal with it on your own I remember talking about how it was really sad to hear a lot of young women saying they couldn't go to their families because they were scared of judgement implications for family shame and honour so the issue is yes it's about online and offline but this all exists within a macro context of just the ways in which women are regulated and policed in India.
Women bloggers we talked to women bloggers and while they make up only one-fourth of the Indian blogosphere they routinely get sexist comments posted on their sites comments get personal targeting the way they look, act they receive proposals ranging from friendship to marriage including love sick sexually explicit e-mails they get threatening comments telling them to watch out because they are going against Indian society or because they are corrupting India's model fabric and we talked to mommy bloggers, we talked to women bloggers who write about sex and identity and relationships. There's one very well known young blogger who was one of the first to have this blog to book phenomena she writes a blog about a young working woman's life in urban India and she touches on relationship, sex, smoking drinking and says of the harsh response she has got there needs to be a kindness censor on the Internet and she has gotten rude remarks and what upsets her is the remarks aren't about her writing and blogging but very personal attacks on her and people who would never -- they have never met her call her an ugly bitch just really, really unsavory mean things.
Anyway, so -- and of course bloggers have ways to deal with this. They have ways as anybody who blogs knows that you have a community of people around you and you find ways to sort of get after trolls and protect yourself.
So I'm just going to end now with some final concluding thoughts and maybe we can talk more when you have questions.
A couple of things we would just like to stress. As I said in the beginning, given the kinds of things that are happening, yeah, we do need an evidence base for any kind of policy or even just to understand what the online space is like for different communities of users. And we cannot emphasize that more. I think there is a serious posit of quality rich and analytically rich data and how people access the Internet for too long we have had policies formed by the state's very narrow agendas and values not just around gender but a whole lot of things around the Digital Divides, information poverty and I think that perhaps we need to look at communities more rigorously and closely.
The other thing is stop taking the path of panic and morality and moral panics have really come to define a lot of public reactions in everyday life in India to the point where I feel sometimes now that there's you know so much outrage at the slightest thing that can happen that I sometimes wonder if we have enough voice I mean real voice and agency in speaking out against moral panics it's not easy to stop reacting from a point of panic because people who do can't see they are creating panics but I think it's something we need to identify and call on much more strongly.
Also people don't want censorship of content. Information and the process of getting it is transformitory. People don't think that censorship and blanket content regulation actually work.
And like Savita Bhabhi for example you know most people -- actually it was split down the middle some had seen her and some had heard but not seen her they were not concerned with sexual content as harmful except for younger people which is another thing I won't mention right now but we were really interested to see that respondents were talking about a continuum. People did not see sexual content in black and white terms and they were very aware of a broad range of things and that it was impossible to define what is good what is bad what is right for you at 18 what is right for you at 22. And we're unhappy with the ways in which things like Savita Bhabhi and other forms of content were being restricted in fact others were some appalled and they were like why there's so much stuff on the Internet and they couldn't understand the logic of it maybe because there is no logic for it.
I think the Internet is something that offers global connectivity. It's very exciting to women. It's sort of like so many opportunities have exploded with it but there is this constant sense of you know that there are threats.
The other thing is that online harm is not always a case of stranger danger and the myth of strangers lurking in cyberspace to prey on innocent women and children is somewhat challenged by what we found.
And this means that strategies for safety then have to engage with what individual users do and there's ways in which people can get information about protecting themselves. But it also makes us aware of very pervasive cultural and social controls on women from within the home and within the family. And I think that's something that we cannot stop emphasizing as more feminists as more women's groups start working in area related to technology and media.
And I think there's -- there is a need for awareness and not of control. I think -- 92% of our respondents felt that it's possible to leverage the Internet with the awareness of the risks that exist online and that young people particularly feel confident and capable but sometimes also you know they want the support of their families. They need more information. They are learning to read the signals and devise their strategies. But definitely there needs to be more institutionalized methods of curriculum for them to learn to be secure online.
And I think -- I'm just going to end now by saying it's not about protectionism and protectionist policies because these things never work and I'm constantly aware that in spaces like this we talk about safety and protection but something like freedom and particularly for women is something that I've hardly heard about in the past few days and in the past IGFs so hopefully this is a new start. Thank you very much. And I'll stop there.
>> JAN MALINOWSKI: Thank you very much.
>> JAN MALINOWSKI: Thank you very much, Maya for that. I think you gave us a number of very interesting ideas. And I wonder how that would compare with other regions in the world. I suspect that much of what you said does apply to other parts of the world.
I think that it was particularly interesting to note that there is this notion of constant surveillance offline that is perhaps being transferred to some extent to online environments. There's this online/offline connection.
There is a risk of harm and the risk of harm seems to have certain tools for dealing with it. Self protection, managing own identity and so on and so forth.
But it is interesting to note that you signal that privacy settings and technology doesn't always apparently resist the attempt of possible harassers or abusers or so on and so forth.
So I wonder whether now Katharine will zoom out and perhaps tell us a bit more and see how in a broader context the content-technology relationship. And perhaps also a bit more on the offline/online connections. Katharine.
>> KATHARINE SARIKAKIS: I wanted to show you this slide. What do I press? I did it earlier.
>> KATHARINE SARIKAKIS: Thank you, thank you very much. Is this on? Hello? I'm so glad to see everybody. Nearly everybody is freezing in this room. So it means I am not paranoid or oversensitive.
So -- and here is the dilemma: Protection of freedom. Protection and freedom. We want more freedom. We don't want less freedom.
We want safety. But not necessarily securitization environments.
I will try to do many things here, speak and change my slides. Just a second. Let me get perfectly located.
So one of the things that we want to do is thinking and -- as thinking and acting human beings is of course to recognize the complexity of the medium we are dealing with.
And of course the Internet is not just a medium from communication. It's a communicative space it's a process of communication itself and of course it is also technology. So we are interested in the freedom of expression. Freedom of association. And connection and of course innovation.
At the same time we must recognize and acknowledge the fact that offline and online issues are entangled. And cannot be separated.
And when we're looking at content-related issues as this workshop is doing, I suggest we should be doing this by also looking at technical issues. Because the Internet is not simply a matter obviously of content.
And we have to do this by looking at the policy cultural and socioeconomic context within which all of this is taking place. And when we talk about women's rights what is it exactly we are talking about? We are talking about human rights. Citizenship rights. In particular I would like to suggest here that we should be looking at citizenship and all its dimensions, not only the political citizenship that we tend to most easily and broadly accept as for example the right to vote. But also in its cultural dimensions, for example, the right to sexual expression. Or cultural and linguistic expression. We had a workshop on sexual rights organised at the beginning of this convention meeting.
Economic rights which refer to actually the availability of material row sources to exercise other rights among other things.
And of course like I said cultural twice there. But I just want to emphasize how important the cultural dimension is.
The culture in this sense should also be understood as ideas and values about the humanity of -- values of the humanity of us women and social groups in society.
And one of the human rights there needs to be paid attention to is the right to life. And we also -- we should also remember that human rights are not exclusive against each other. None of the rights is superior to other rights.
So this tells us a little bit about the necessity for balance. When we want to protect those rights and promote them.
Now harm. Another problematic term, if you like. Because we have -- there are definitional problems in many ways. But let's just see what scholarly research at least has identified as harm.
Maybe an absolute definition is not available. Maybe it is good. But there are some characteristics that scholars tend to agree upon. I'm talking about scholars from communication media studies but also scholars from psychology, even medicine and so on.
So harm is observable. And it is objectively conceived meaning even if the person herself or himself does not realise she or he is being harmed.
It can have effects on an individual level for example unduly promoting -- causing fear or creating probability of physical risk but also a communal societal level for example by creating prejudice against specific individual or groups of individuals or social groups.
Harm is understood also as the symbolic and material silencing of women. And we have seen -- Maya gave us examples of direct silencing like censoring, trying to censor women's speech but also indirect through again fear and so on. And this takes place through trivialization processes. So the claims that one makes are being trivialized. Ridiculing or again causing increasing -- increasing risk to bodily or mental negativity it could be short or long term and on vulnerable groups when I say that referring to women here it's not from a Patronizing perspective of women are sensitive and vulnerable but as a social group that has been historically experienced marginization or disadvantage.
Through the technologies of content, we witness gender specific experiences of harm. And these are to be found in the representation of women in -- in traditionally understood broadly understood texts and images but also in those texts and images that are generated with the help of technology but also in terms of policy content there we have issues of this as well.
Now the symbolic levels of harmful discrimination, for example, are entangled with material experience. And Maya has given us a lot of concrete examples of how this happens.
Now extrapolating from that, we can -- we can say it's in terms of content production and consumption, in terms of cultural context which means the kinds of values about women and gender and women's worth and so on, the impact it has on real lives online and offline. And I would like to add here the impact it has on the Juridical views of women and harm meaning the kind of approaches that the law itself takes or policy takes towards women and harm. To what extent claims about harm are taken seriously or considered legitimate. let's not forget, domestic violence for a long time and until about what 15, 20 years ago was not considered a crime.
Now, in terms of content, if we are looking at problematic content or problems that are related to content, I suggest that there's an issue with relation -- in relation to both existing and absent content. I realise it on a couple of categories but this is only for our sake here. So content generators, where are the problems there? Well the issue of anonymity and privacy are paramount here social networking sites make increasing volumes of our personal information visible to the wider Internet by default meaning they require a proactive approach on behalf of the female user to change the settings, if possible. Sometimes these are not easily understood the instructions, sometimes people don't even think about it. And in any case, it gives the honors of protecting oneself only and exclusively on the individual it puts the onerous on that we have accountability and there's lack of monitors to that respect to what happened to our personal data and our contributions after we submit them and upload them even when we deactivate our accounts.
And finally coming now from individuals and not from organisations the unauthorized -- unauthorized use of personal images on the Internet is also a question or an issue that we need to pay some attention to.
In terms of content services -- the kind of -- the ways in which we use services promote specific usage can also have impending affects on our freedom. Surveillance content for example these wonderful applications such as Google Street View provides unwanted visibility of individuals and organisations what about for example cameras situated outside family planning clinics or shelters. And generally in terms of anonymity. The geo location issue here whereby software and devices, as well, are and can be used for tracking down individuals. Consider this within the context of domestic violence or harassment.
Data veilers, again, our information can be cross referenced, can be manipulated and so that specific messages can be tailored to be sent only to us. Cross referencing of data deriving from that and from the wider availability on the Internet is also another problem.
In terms of content governance, copyright regimes can be prohibitive to non-professional generations and this is of particular importance to women's projects, Civil Society projects to empower women through arts -- through the arts for example or information.
Of course, also, direct censorship around resource for sexual health information or political activity or even the expression of options and ideas and so on. Again Maya gave us a few very concrete examples of how the freedom of expression actually of women on the Internet is being actively restricted through regulatory practices about worth and value and identity and so on.
And another aspect here is also the fact that mobile phones can only access specific Web sites or a specific amount of material on Web sites. The problem here is probably more accurate when it comes to emergency situations but at the same time sometimes mobile phone is the only place where one can in privacy find out information that is sensitive.
Again, about sexual health or political content.
Then we have of course content as text as we know it and we have the very well known problems from the offline world. The mispresentations of women in the press to pornography. And I would like to make here -- to qualify what pornography might mean in this context. Not necessarily sexually explicit material. But material that is violent or glorifies abuse and bears with it the probability of harm plus sexualization which by that I mean that the worth of the person is according to his or her sex appeal and sexual objectification.
Now, these -- the content operates on many levels. And I think we need to also acknowledge the fact that content making, especially when it comes from large organisations or profit organisations -- for-profit organisations, Private Sector and so on, has to do -- is it systemic and systematic activity. It is a matter of knowledge and education. It does represent systems of knowledge and education. It does represent systems of agenda, taxonomy that takes on various faces through the world and it does include experience of body as well. So what to do. It's not simply one thing it's not a matter of censoring or controlling content. But it's a matter of a comprehensive approach to empower women more. And to give women the tools to empower themselves more. One is a recommendation, if you like or a brief conclusion here is to enhance anonymity or privacy policies even more we have heard a lot about privacy policies in this meeting.
It is my view that none of them goes far enough in terms of protecting privacy because they all stop at the level of the user. This is another conversation we can have at some other point.
Another suggestions to apply proprietary rights of personal data which means we automatically have the right over our own data. When we -- excuse me -- when we impart some of it, then we keep the right to also revoke them, delete them and so on.
Extend copyright protection to personal images so some more control is given to individuals to control what happens with their images at least on a legal level create more mobile friendly Internet sites and not allow telecommunication operators or manufacturers to determine which sites we can visit through our mobile phones.
Now, another set of recommendations refers to more technical approach to content and interaction with content. For example direct systems and applications so when something is happening on the Internet, there is an application that alerts either the community or the ISPs, the intermediaries the authorities and so on that something is going on. It's like the panic button for social networking sites against child abuse. And I think this is a good idea. And can be expanded. Support content generation by women and by women's organisations so that better, more and easily accessible information on social rights political rights cultural rights as well as technical education, how to shape the Internet, how to control the Internet is spread. And expect more from the technical community and the industrial community, if you like, to invest and to research and development in technical applications that enable greater control to users.
And finally policy recommendations with regards to the governance of Internet entities in general.
Internet environments should become more accountable to users. States and also interest communities.
Those who profit from Internet usage should be asked to bear corporate responsibility and support educational programmes but at the same time involve more gender-balanced workforce.
More transparency from ISPs and other intermediaries and there are guidelines already for that. Let's ask them to follow them.
Finally, changes and national Councils or policy making bodies they should more readily involve gender presentation and diffuse interest.
With this I would like to end. And hopefully we can discuss these ideas. And these -- these facts.
But as a final comment I just wanted to say that as you can see, the concerns of the wider community is also the concerns of ours, of women. Thank you.
>> JAN MALINOWSKI: Thank you. Thank you very much for that. That has completed the picture for us. We have a few additional points I think that what you have said has mostly confirmed. And given more substance to what Maya was telling us earlier.
I think two additional ideas would be that we need to understand and acknowledge better the risk of harm and the harm itself. And we need to address it and react to those situations and perhaps the other point would be that there is again need for women's involvement in those policy developments and in other aspects of the management of the tools of the Internet and so on and so forth.
Now, can we open the floor to the participants? And if you would agree with me, what I would suggest is that in the first instance we get reactions from participants in respect of what we have heard so that we add to the background for the discussion. And any additional comments, views, that you may have. And experiences or information that should be taken into account in this context.
And then in a second stage of the discussion we can look at the responses and the follow-up, the policy decisions that may be required in order to address the matter.
So the floor is yours perhaps as I stated initially in respect to additional comments, data, views that will enrich the background to the discussion. Yes, I think there should be a microphone somewhere.
Do we have microphones somewhere? Yes. Can someone pass the microphone, please? Thank you.
>> Hello. Hello.
>> JAN MALINOWSKI: And if you would like to also introduce yourself so we know it as the background.
>> EMILAR VUSCHE: I'm Emilar Vusche. And I'm from Lebanon. And I'm here with APC. The first question I want to ask is for Maya and for the other lady. Sorry; I didn't recognize your name. I want to ask if you're looking at content as a way to generate money for women and empower them as an easy tool for them to become participants for their family and supporting their family because we are talking about content from a United Nations lateral perspective. How much are we talking about content when it comes to additional money value that women can use to make money while staying at home and supporting their children? Do you have many bloggers making money off their blogs? Do you have any numbers and statistics and do you think we should stress this more?
>> JAN MALINOWSKI: Okay. Any other comments or questions from the floor so that we can get some of them before responding?
>> TARA LONG: Okay. I'm Tara Long from Japan. Thank you for the presentation and bringing the broader aspects. I would like to ask the -- some to maybe -- a response from Maya you present a good and clear designation that have been in India as part of women and interesting the online and offline connection. So I think that we need first in the injury day life in the offline connections already happens in online. But one thing that I would like to hear about like there's other kinds of issues that women in India in like -- that they create a kind of --
(Audio breaking up).
>> TARA LONG: In a sense of a protection okay all the people need the protection. So when we teach this we need kind of like an agenda that could be addressed very strongly. Thank you.
>> JAN MALINOWSKI: Thank you very much. There was another request for the floor.
>> ANJA KOVACS: Thank you. Hi. I'm Anja Kovacs from the Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore, India. Thank you both for very interesting presentations I really enjoyed it. I have a question specifically for Maya. I'm kind of picking up on how you said people don't want content blocking or content regulation. I think of course in India one could argue that that's a very specific type of people so we cannot we can't be the Pink Underwear Campaign that was used to -- the people who are exploiting in that way is arguing against a very specific social group and the freedom of expression laws in India have a fair number of restrictions including obscenity and over the years the feminist movement has at various points in time been a proponent of blocking things in more traditional media of taking things off, et cetera, et cetera.
I was wondering if you could say a little bit more about the kind of challenges this new medium, this behavior then choose that feminist movement in India in general and also maybe like what you would see ways forward for a feminist movement still taking into account that people from very different classes might look at these things very differently. I know it's a very difficult question. But I just wanted to hear you know if you have any thoughts on that.
>> JAN MALINOWSKI: So I will give the floor now to our two panelists. But before doing that I would suggest that you may want to think about content regulation from a gender perspective in other areas of the world. If you have examples, if you want to share with us you may want to think about it while we get responses from Maya and Katharine. Maya, would you like to take the floor first?
>> MAYA INDIRA GANESHI: I'm sure Katharine can also respond on Emilar's question about content producers. Yeah women in India do -- you're talking about working online right and using the Internet for work.
>> EMILAR VUSHE: For example, I'm talking about putting works on blogs -- adding words on blogs how they can generate money and getting sponsors for example let me give you like an example. Someone from the United States, he's a sponsor, he can put an add and someone in South Africa who makes lower income or maybe in your country who is making a lower income because they are living in rural areas, they can benefit from this because the Web is global like people in the States are reading blogs by people and by women especially I'm concentrating on the women issues -- those written in India so how can we use the income difference and how can we use the content to produce money for women and eventually make them productive to be able to support their families, their kids. And just have you know -- you know money is power so when the woman is making money she will have more say in her house and if NGOs are supporting women in a very good way maybe this could be some way to use content not just as human rights perspective.
From more like an economic perspective to change the balance inside the house.
>> MAYA INDIRA GANESHI: Yes, bloggers, the more adept focus bloggers I think are able to generate money but there's different kinds of bloggers, also. There are those who see themselves as a certain kind of voice, they may be a dissenting voice they may be political commentators there is a kind of split in India where you would find many more male bloggers sort of talking about larger political issues. Women do. But they also will write about -- they will write about the family, home, relationships, personal issues. Which is fine. I mean that's how it is.
I think there are bloggers who use -- who do generate income. And you can definitely find examples of that. I'm just not sure about should everyone -- should women start working online as a way to -- as a way to become independent. I think there are a lot of opportunities for women. But it's not to work and to -- but it's -- but there is an access issue, as well, which women, what women. It's issues of literacy, language, do they need to be working online? What are the opportunities to work online? It's not something that women do a lot of us in India. I'm sure there are statistics I can direct you to sites.
One thing is that I think generally like Indians are uncomfortable doing economic transactions online for example like online shopping is not a very big thing because when -- there's insecurity about how stuff -- how your personal data will get used, whether things are safe or not, whether you'll get the product that you paid money for because when you shop in India you want to go to a shop and touch it and feel it and make sure it's right because you don't have just the trust in the system. I'm not sure if I really answered that. I think the idea that women should work online to become economically independent that it self needs to be challenged and questioned.
>> EMILAR VUSHE: I'm more like using blogs that already exist to generate money. Like met me give you a wild example you can generate money from Google add words I'm generating like 100 per month and it's very easy and you can for example write page reviews you can for example when you go shopping you can write page reviews when you are using new products. There are tons of ways to -- you can review books. There's tons of ways to make money online. And it's from content. I'm not saying women should work online or have online shops. I'm saying they have blogs already. Is there a way just tell them you can make money from it and help them find sponsors. That's all.
>> JAN MALINOWSKI: Can I pick on that.
>> EMILAR VUSHE: Sorry; I don't want to push this too far.
>> JAN MALINOWSKI: I think it's very interesting and a very good idea to try to forward the issue of women's revenue from that perspective but can we take it back to an Internet Governance context. Can we have any information as to whether the situation is different for women and men in respect of who generates the content and who manages it and gets revenue for it linked to another one of the questions, the harm or risk of harm with respect to women online and offline. And other parts of the Internet population. Is there a significant difference? Are women more at risk than other segments of the Internet population? Perhaps that will give us hints in respect of the responses that we have to look for with a gender perspective.
>> KATHARINE SARIKAKIS: Two things come to mind in relation to this issue. First that the ability or capacity to produce coherent written text, the written word, for example, has always been associated with certain socioeconomic strata as well as of course has always had a very strong gender dimension.
For women to generate content which is -- which is enough, brings enough income to make a meaningful contribution to them and their families they need to be -- we need environments that are enabling. We need technical capacity. Literacy around these things. The ability to write. Well, write about things that are of interest to others so that others can pay.
And we have seen that in most cases where women have been -- have managed to make profit out of content has been from being the remediate environment or at least this is a promotion of how women can make some money out of content.
So they will write about child rearing or as you said, shopping and so on, nevertheless the big question here I think is what kind of income is that for women? Is it stable income? What kind of labour conditions are women then being asked to fulfill in order to benefit from that? We're talking about precarious conditions. No social benefit for example. And all of that. And I don't think this is a matter of simple -- a simple matter of empowerment. It is helpful. But at the same time there are all of these other questions I think we need to ask.
>> JAN MALINOWSKI: Maya, would you have any other comment in response to the remarks made?
>> MAYA INDIRA GANESHI: To the person from Taiwan I'm sorry I didn't get your name yeah, the -- I think the Pink Panty Campaign that you mentioned was a really interesting moment and I hope you have sort of followed it and you know the whole story, right, about what happened to it? So yeah I think you are talking about spaces for women to speak back in activism.
That's definitely there. And in the Pink Panty Campaign was great. But you also know eventually it was taken off Facebook it was attacked on Facebook. So even as there are spaces for women to respond and speak it was amazing how quickly that was policed and spammed and that space was violated. So I think that is an equally interesting part of the story. I'm not sure if you want me to say anything more about that.
>> ANJA KOVACS: I think it's like as Internet is kind of like a space that we can address some issue that can avoid some physical attack as we had to be in like the offline world. So in the sensitive issue in many issues that can create a -- kind of like a moral panic -- a morality panic could be using this online to be the thing that shapes the ideas, the society to be shared. So I think this is another way that we can use.
>> MAYA INDIRA GANESHI: I think there's a lot of potential for different kinds of rights to be advocated for I think there's a lot of potential for different kinds of people to be made online to be heard online and I think there are activists around the world who do that and more than activists just everyday people who do have a voice so I think definitely there are opportunities. At the same time it's also a question of access and issue -- access and issue and who is online and in what spaces there are various interesting things that happen now like I have recently gone onto Twitter and I've been interested to see how people are critiquing the state like we have the commonwealth games coming up for example so there are a whole bunch of journalists, every day people from Delhi largely I think who are taking on personas and identities that they are using to ce teak what the -- critique what the state is doing with the games so create accounts where they mask raid and pose as ministers and tweet a certain perspective that they feel the mainstream media is not allowing to emerge there's a lot of examples I think of things that can happen online.
But then again about certain things maybe I'm not going to the right places but I'm not sure that there are enough local spaces, Indian spaces that talk about women's rights in a particular way that I feel resonates Savita Bhabhi was great because it challenged us to -- allowed us to challenge our ideas about sexual content online.
>> ANJA KOVACS: Maybe we need more.
>> MAYA INDIRA GANESHI: You should also check out something called Blank Noise. You should have a look at Blank Noise they are also an example of domestic violence and speaking about that.
>> JAN MALINOWSKI: Thank you for that. We have a request for the floor back there while the microphone gets there, I wonder if this tells us something about the speed with which the site was policed, spammed and so on. Does it mean women have less space for activism on the Web there's a quick reaction with respect to female activism than would be in the case with respect to others does it signal something please the floor is yours.
>> AUDIENCE: Thanks I'm not trying to be pedantic. Yeah, this is on. But it's just kind of a general comment.
I think what my sense of the space now is that we have dealt with a very general definition of woman. And we haven't really looked at specific issues such as LGBT women or women with disabilities and I'm just wondering like not necessarily right now kind of thing but what the implications are for that for invisibly excluding certain types of women in terms of the net.
>> JAN MALINOWSKI: Yes, the question of multiple discrimination is perhaps something that needs to be looked into. There are several requests for the floor.
The microphone is there. Afterwards we have -- no, go ahead. And then we'll pass it on to the next speaker.
>> AUDIENCE: Yes. I just want to follow up on that in order to complicate an already complicated discussion based on this notion of -- I don't think you're being pedantic at all I think it's extremely important I know Katharine will know this content is also produced by women for women by different groups of women for particular groups of women.
And there are groups of women who object and monitor and censor content produced by other women sometimes of public morality issues you can think about the Bible built in the States when women are talking about growing up and coming to age certainly the work I've done from quite some time ago women would tell women off about what was appropriate especially if they were speaking from particular world views or religious beliefs structures so you could complicate your stories a bit further by talking about these lateral power hire keys and relationships because it has influence on the policy recommendations in terms of content as text and producers of content when those producers and texts are by women for women. So take it any way you want. But . . .
>> JAN MALINOWSKI: Could we have another comment now.
>> CLAUDIA GRAY: Good morning, my name is Claudia Gray. I'm coming from Mexico.
I'm a researcher on these gender issues back in Mexico and usually a consultant for local Government. And I'm thinking about women that access to Internet back in my country and I think this is a situation that's shared by moth of the developing countries. I'm not sure.
One of the things that I -- I'm very concerned in terms of content and policy and all of these issues is the generation of statistics. There's a lack of statistics segregated by gender, by sex. Regarding the Internet access.
The other thing regarding the development of contents and resources is the ones attending the women strategic interests. And I'm thinking particularly in terms of violence and abuse. I've been researching for some projects the Web pages regarding these self tests to recognize if you're in a violent relationship or if you're in an abusive relationship and I didn't find anything on Spanish language. I didn't find anything that assessed the measures that have to be taken after you've been evaluated like high risk abused person that you are really in danger. So I think we should work or somehow in the Internet Governance sphere or the binding force of the outcome something like that that obliges -- obligates states to develop a measure that they have to have contents regarding violence or specifically talking women's strategic interests.
I'm not sure if I've made myself clear.
>> JAN MALINOWSKI: I think you have you have indeed. We have another comment. And then we will have reactions from the panelists. And perhaps I can also signal that Jac may have comments coming in from remote participation. So please, the floor is yours.
>> SHAHZAD AHMAD: I'm Shahzad Ahmad. Fantastic presentation Maya and Katharine. Katharine particularly I want to pick on what you said, a dilemma, online protection and online freedom. These two things. I mean while we are sitting in this workshop, I just got a couple of messages from a friend that a famous anchor person in Pakistan I mean we can agree or disagree to what she does for journalism but I mean she's been like abused and harassed and I mean said all the wrong words on Twitter for example. I saw a couple of tweets on that.
I know from the Pakistani perspective and the society we live in this kind of online harassment can lead to very serious consequences, for example death. We have evidence for that.
I want to particularly say that we know that national instruments that we have got in the country are either slack, lazy, non-serious, least cared. I mean they care least about it. Even if they are reported.
I don't know what are other instruments that we can make sure that the women who are online are protected. And are free to do what they want to do. Meaningful or for their livelihoods, for their, you know social development, whatever.
This is one aspect to it.
Another thing is that I wanted to also flag this that we have this campaign in Pakistan which is quite a few of us are part of and we have a bunch of fantastic female activists who are very active in this field to monitor all different communication spheres for this online harassment and what is happening on that.
At times we feel very helpful when people come to us, complain about their agony, about their problem. But they face online and we cannot not do anything. So Katharine I particularly want to ask you, what you would propose, what you would suggest, some concrete steps to make sure that how we can make ourselves -- I mean, it's even relevant to men, as well. People are protected. And they are free. And I mean putting things into the realm of protection, people are not you know blocking something. So these are some thoughts scattered vague thoughts that I was thinking I thought I should share with you.
>> JAN MALINOWSKI: Thank you very much for that. We have about 20 minutes. While Katharine and perhaps Maya as well respond to the various remarks, perhaps Jac will prepare and see if we have comments coming from remote participation. Katharine.
>> KATHARINE SARIKAKIS: Thank you for your questions. They are really tough. So the discussion is getting complicated anyway. The reason why I put the right to life at the very start as an integral right women's rights is exactly because of these very real threats to women's lives when they dare and become visible and dare and speak and raise their voices to express their positions and themselves. I am not sure what the absolute concrete measures should be. But as a start I think there are three elements here that are of importance.
One is as I said earlier, the safeguarding, protection and encouragement of anonymity where this is required or where this is desired. When we don't want to be anonymous but raise our voices apogamously then we need to be sure that the law that exists is implemented the law is probably also there in Pakistan or needs to be amended accordingly. But I would be surprised if laws do not -- and in broad terms and a majority of societies do not protect human life. Life free from fear. And free from fear of corporate punishment and death. And the third element of course is the cultural element and with that the intolerance towards women who represent other ideas. Other values that are -- they convene for the nation or religion or political systems, class and so on and so forth.
So freedom of expression there has to be protected. But it has to be protected in very gender specific ways because there's more tolerance towards men I think to be different and more vocal than it is for women because as women we are also called to represent in an abstract on the nation, the honour or reputation or so on. And I think with this I would like to turn my attention to Emilar's very important point and our first speaker's point about diversity and difference among women. This is definitely I think a political question. Who speaks? Who silences who effectively? We tend to concentrate I think a lot on individual liberty and the personal. And this is fine. As long as it does not impose against -- inflict upon the rights of expression for others.
So if I hear: Shut up, you don't know what you're talking about, this is not necessarily a respective of my freedom. Obviously this takes even more bizarre expressions.
And I do not have any obvious solution to that because the solution can't be short term or meet but it's important to recognize that yes not all women not all situations and not in all cases.
>> JAN MALINOWSKI: Sorry; I think that there is a need to better protect freedom of expression of women online. And I think there was also a call to ensure that there is more content on the Internet that will empower women to protect themselves, to identify whether they are even at risk and whether they need to react to that. And there is helplessness in respect with situations of risk or actual evaluation of rights. And in that respect I think it might be useful simply to signal that you're working a treaty on an international law instrument designed to protect women against violence and in particular in the context of domestic violence. We did hear that most of the risk in an online-offline environment comes from the proximity of the victim and not from distant persons.
So perhaps it's relevant to bear in mind the international law that -- any other comments.
>> MAYA INDIRA GANESHI: I just wanted to respond to a couple of things that were said. Okay. Starting from where we're at right now, you're absolutely right of course. I mean there's very little compilation usually of different kinds of women who speak. One of the things we did in our research is we really made an effort to try to be representative and this is always like this you know sort of game and tension especially when you're working in a very large country like India you know you're doing qualitative research you're not going to get numbers all of that is fine but we had a lot of discussions around how representative do you want to be, as well like we really tried to get disabled women to be part of the research. We wanted to hear their voices. And we got one person an academic who is partially disabled and through her -- she's an old friend and advised us through her we tried to access different kinds of women.
But they were mostly older and were very uncomfortable that's because the woman we knew was older they were her con temp ears but mostly uncomfortable in speaking and being interviewed and we even asked the recruiters when we got our sample to give us access of disabled women they looked at us strangely and came back and say we don't know any we did get queer respondents and I think we got a lot of interesting stuff from queer women about what they are doing online, how they use the online space and that's all there in our draft. We also tried to contact listserves, the queer women in India and in the dia sphere are very good at uses listserves to connect for political activism as well as just for partying and socialization and things like that and that was one quite interesting point that came out that there was this divide that we heard.
There were women like Murina the journalist I mentioned she was one of those people who was like where is the queer politics now everyone gets online to hook up and meet people and find dates and things. Queer women are not talking about the real politics that affect us. So we did sort of manage hear things like that we interviewed a woman who was a manager of a listserve. We had a lot of critique for this newly opened rainbow themed queer store and actually run by two lovely women who are sort of friends of mine but when we heard about how they were using the Internet to push this idea of the rainbow as this overarching symbol of queerness I ended up writing that entire thing I thought oh my God I hope they never read this because I completely have issue with how they were pushing products and the sort of intersections that came out were interesting for example here is a store women using the Internet to sell products that queer women can't buy in offline spaces it's fantastic by the self censorship that's going off when they say Bombay has had an issue about the name we can't call it that officially it's Mumbai they said we want people to be able to buy products and enjoy having the rainbow symbol and all of that.
But we don't want to be confrontationist or political so we won't do anything around any religious festival or holiday we will not talk about politics so we won't have I love Bombay rainbow colored coffee mugs because we don't want a right wing person coming into our store saying I love Bombay it has to be Mumbai so we won't do anything around Christmas or Hindu festivals so it was really interesting to see how certain kinds of spaces were opening up but there were other kinds of spaces that were closing and that's what I meant by there's a kind of cageyness that's sort of coming in and as much as there is space on the Internet, I think we're sort of a little scared in middle class India I believe. And there's many other -- I mean I'm not sure if you want more detail of course you can read the reports and see that we have been able to understand more about what queer women do online but having said that --
>> JAN MALINOWSKI: Can I perhaps interrupt because we are running of out of time. Unless it is a point that's going to add a different dimension I think we need to hear from Jac and there's also another request for the floor. And after we do that, I would like perhaps that we focus for a you few minutes -- we only have about five or ten minutes more -- on what policy responses and governance responses we can give in order to advance on the matter. Jac?
>> JANINE MOOLMAN: Hi, my name is Janine Moolman. And I work for the APC women's programme and I just want to talk a little bit about a project that we are currently running around violence against women in ICTs in 12 countries and all of those 12 countries four are in Latin America and it includes Mexico and I want to make some points around what this project is trying to do firstly because we have been working on this area for quite a long time we have run research in each of the 12 countries so we are starting to identify the kinds of violations that are happening online.
And in quite a political way it's only anecdotal we are also able to start looking at what are some of the trends how is violence different online to offline and also looking at the gaps not only in terms of Civil Society responses but also in terms of policy responses.
Looking at is there an actual recognition of that kind of violence and what's happening when it isn't recognized so it's not only about ICT policy but it's also about policies around domestic violence, harassment, cybercrime and we are finding that in each of the countries it's quite varied some countries are quite far ahead there's lots of good relationships between women's rights and ICT policy advocates and in other countries there's none. So for example in the Philippines, people are starting to look at gaps in terms of enforcement. And what are the implications in terms of those kinds of responses.
And so the people that we are working with range from women's rights activists education activists but also the people within the policy arena and I think that's critical to start considering and lastly in response to the question of -- we are trying to respond to the issue of content so for example we have small grants and in South Africa one of those grants is going to a group of young black lesbian women who are documenting violence against this particular group so I think there are many things that need to happen but they need to happen on a lot of different levels and with that I will withhold my comment but bringing my comment from another remote participant and she brings a really interesting point actually. She says that many times I find content online specifically targeted to women and -- that are very abusive however when it comes to taking off such content we find ourselves confused whether we will be imposing harm to other people's freedom of expression so the question is what is the fine line between freedom of expression and when that freedom turns into abuse.
>> JAN MALINOWSKI: Interesting question and perhaps that's a key for us to move on to what policy responses. Perhaps I can give the floor to our panelists fast and to the floor afterwards.
>> MAYA INDIRA GANESHI: Can I just say that I would actually like to ask Katharine to maybe talk more about policy if she would like to. I have things I could say but I think there was another really important point that came up that Anja made that I would actually like to use my time to respond to that because I think it's something that concerns women's rights activists if that's okay if we have time I'll quickly say something about policy. But I'm sorry; but I'm just going to do that. I think why erotics is a really interesting study and initiative is that I know in India for sure the feminist movement hasn't engaged with a lot of issues around the Internet, around new media, new technology. There is a lot of -- it's an unknown space. It's a new space. There are very few of us who are trying to do this and of course there are very serious splits and divides along the lines of censorship and obscenity and content and you have a lot of sections of the feminist movements actually embed with the right wing by virtue of their sort of views converging at a point where feminists are feeling that this sudden content on the Internet objectifies women and degrades women however I get the sense there's a very small group of us who are trying to say something different I don't know how loud our voices are but there's something also happening with younger women users and this is an issue that is a little complicated a large part of the research we have done looks at what is this kind of agency women have in creating content that's sexual that's self generated, about themselves I have not talked about that at all but it's one of the big things about being on social networking sites is the ability to present yourself in a sexual or sexualized way and there's a lot of tensions around that it can be something as simple as the fact that Indian women are policed on the basis of what they wear so the online space allows them to use -- display a profile picture on Facebook where they are wearing those clothes they are not allowed to wear in the offline space it can something as simple as wearing jeans or a sleeveless top or one woman had a picture of herself in a towel that got 60 comments and it was very exciting for her.
You know, there are spaces that are kind of opening up and yet at the same time what we found is there's a lot of replaying -- of course there's replaying of sort of traditional scripts of how you're supposed to present yourself I can imagine feminists engaging with this and being uncomfortable. I mean I think the perspective we have taken people also feel maybe we're a little bit too liberal in ascribing agency to younger women. I just feel that when it comes to sexuality and content and access that women have in India to the Internet I don't think the feminist movement is engaged enough and I'm wondering if this is a time when things actually need to move ahead one very interesting thing we did before the study was go to Delhi and meet with some groups there to get a sense of where is the feminist movement and what is their understanding and unfortunately it's still really retro.
It's still -- like Manjima and I actually kind of felt like when it came we were the least scared and we know very little about the tech aspect of tech.
>> JAN MALINOWSKI: We are really running out of time.
>> MAYA INDIRA GANESHI: I'm stopping.
>> JAN MALINOWSKI: So I would like to turn to Katharine to see what policy responses we can identify. What further action we can think in order to advance on this front.
>> KATHARINE SARIKAKIS: Okay very quickly I think -- these are not specific things on the micro level but we need more knowledge in women for sure. We need to create knowledge on women and what these projects are doing and the need has been identified by another colleague second is to extend the principles of offline lives on to the online behavior. And third, understand that freedom of expression ends where the silencing of the other begins.
>> JAN MALINOWSKI: Thank you very much. That really brings us exactly to 1:30. And I think that it was a very synthetic conclusion. But a conclusion nonetheless. It is clear that there is a lot of work to be done still in this field. And I hope that we will be able to continue working on it together.
Thank you very much for your participation. Thank you very much to the panelists. I think it was interesting and enriching. And to some extent troubling. And we have some way ahead in order to address these issues. Thank you very much.
>> JAN MALINOWSKI: I would also like to invite the participants who are interested to continue talking about gender issues and women's rights dimensions to join us at the gender Dynamic Coalition that's happening at 2:30 in Room No. 9. Thanks.
(Session ended at 1331)
- Parent Category: IGF 2010