Mumbai: ‘Muslim Women Withdrawing Social Media Presence Due To Online Abuse,’ Says Bebaak Collective’s Research |

By Dhairya Gajara

Mumbai: Muslim women are withdrawing and restricting their social media presence due to the online abuse targeted at the Muslim community, according to a recently published report. The report about Social Media and Muslim Community’s experience also stated that women are the major victims of online abuse targeted towards the Muslim community in general.

Bebaak Collective, a coalition of autonomous women’s groups working in various states of India, published a research report ‘Behind The Pixels: Social Silencing and Isolation of Indian Muslims in the Online Public’, which highlighted the online hatred targeted towards the Muslim community. The report is a documentation about the hatred and abuses that the Muslim community in India have experienced on the social media.

The research report has been constituted after 18 in-depth interviews from 6 states, including women and men of the age group between 20s and 50s, and 4 group discussions. The qualitative research talks about the experiences shared by the members of Muslim community who have been victims of online hatred and abuses through different social media platforms.

The report talks about the change in the community’s engagement of social media, the rise of hatred, fear among the community and the steps being taken to save from the harassment subjected to them in the digital space. According to the report, women from the Muslim community prove to be the major victims of online hatred against the community in general and therefore women are withdrawing and restricting themselves from using social media.

Geeta Thatra, an independent researcher involved in the report, said, “The online abuse towards the Muslim community is gendered in nature. To men, it’s mostly abusing their mothers and sisters, and the women receive death and rape threats. The difference between online and offline world is not large and the online hatred can inflict violence in the offline world as well. This also leads to the women’s families increasing control and censorship on them to protect them.”

The report also mentions about the timeline of increase in online abuse. It says that while online abuse has increased in the last 10 years, the scale of abuse increases during major political events. It exemplifies the online posts from men writing about marrying Kashmiri women after the abrogation of article 370 and posts calling Muslim men as incompetent as women were leading the anti-CAA protests.

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