The Pandemic Of Online Violence Against Women: How To Combat It?

The first topic at the Online Safety Summit for December covered The Pandemic Of Online Violence Against Women & How We Can Combalt It.

Jayanti Gautam
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cyber violence is gender based
The first session at the Online Safety Summit for December covered 'The Pandemic Of Online Violence Against Women & How We Can Combat It'. The current society cannot function without the internet and that also brings in the concern about the safety of women online. Women face terrible inappropriate experiences which makes it difficult for them to coexist in the space, online harassment can be equally traumatic as physical harassment and women have had it enough. It is about time their safety is given priority.

The panellists at the session were Ashwini Obulesh, a lawyer; Dr Samir Parikh, a consultant psychiatrist; Kareshma Khanna representing Gytree; and Jyoti Vadehra, a representative of CSR India. Let us hear what they had to say about the safety of women on the internet.

Cyber violence is gender based

Dr Samir Parikh shared his views on why the psychology of the younger generation is important and relevant when it comes to online harassment and digital violence, he says, "There are areas where we can be found, such as our homes, the playground in our neighbourhood, the school, and the colleges. the locations where young people are found. We cannot ignore the fact that their youth is an essential component of reality. To connect with social networks, they are there. They use it as a crucial component of their communication. Therefore, we need to have safety where they are protected when youngster leaves their homes and goes to some of these areas. They won't be bullied at a place where they can express themselves. They avoid having unpleasant encounters. in order to spare them from suffering. Because of this, we must all take the digital world seriously and set a goal for it to serve as a space for young people without hesitation."

What kinds of issues do women encounter online?

Ashwini Obulesh talks about the different issues women face online and how can they deal with them or at least keep them in mind as they go about their lives, "It transcends all types of divisions, including class, caste, urbanity, and rurality. It thereby transcends all of these limitations. Particularly for women and kids who are the targets of any form of harassment, misogyny, or other negative space established within the boundaries of the solid areas. Since the perpetrator more often than not does not lead the victim to believe that they have also engaged in such an activity, I imagine the first reaction you mentioned that a lady or child would experience is shock or humiliation. It is crucial to initially think that neither women nor children are at fault. Second, women should report crimes without holding back. In my capacity as a lawyer, I also understand the very real systemic threats to this process."

How do we tell what news is real in the current social media environment and what is fake?


Jyoti Vadehra shares her mind about determining the kind of information spread online for one's own safety. She says,"I started off by stating that I totally concur with Dr Parikh and Ashwini. Right today, everything in the digital world is pervasive. It's also crucial to ask for assistance because it's not your responsibility. Reporting crime is the CSR message for women and children. Since we have been tackling issues relating to digital-based issues for more than a decade, we believe that distinguishing between faith and reality is one of the largest challenges. As a result, we must all contribute to responsible digital well-being. Before sending out messages, sharing photographs, or exchanging data, please double-check where it came from because not everything that is published online can be trusted. Thus, it is crucial to confirm your sources before disseminating any messages."

Awareness On Women's Health Through The Internet

Kareshma Khanna points out that the internet has huge impact on everyone and it can be used as a great tool for spreading awareness about women's health. It would therefore benefit women in terms of accessibility of knowing their own bodies. Khanna shares her own experience, "when we were working on Gytree, we discovered that women do not take their sexual health or mental health seriously. because they believe that if they have PCOS or anything similar, others would judge them based on that, which will drive people to assume they have health problems. Now, if we want half of the population to be healthy, we must prioritise the health of women. We must be liberated in order for the woman to contact us. so, making some space becomes crucial. Therefore, there is a lot of judgement that occurs offline, but there will be solace online. However, there is trolling, therefore it's vital to build such areas."

How to deal with inappropriate DMs

Obulesh shared her point on this topic by saying, "First and foremost, all of these are illegally objectionable if something happens. Therefore, be frank and transparent about it. Just don't go to jail for this; there's a jail for that. Sexual harassment is legal under the IPC because the sentence is less than 10 years. Therefore, women should take actions like these. Do not hesitate, just block and report."

Empowering Women Online


Khanna said, "Online platforms have both beneficial and detrimental effects. I would say that using online media is about access and awareness. Gytree's aim is to empower women, therefore generating awareness might be a type of content creation, which is what we are doing right now, and the best part is to create access to the solution."

How Online Platform Is For You

The panels share their own methods of helping women and how women can use the internet without being in fear and have access to take action in cases of harassment. Jyoti Vadhera says how CSR helps women access guidance during a crisis, "We as a group get a lot of criticism, but we want to make it simple for women to report issues. For that, we created a survival kit with a variety of redressal mechanisms, a helpline, and other items."

Ashwini Obulesh explained that there are many dilemmas that she faces as a lawyer. She says that one can argue and defend themself after writing something offensive online and that it's their right to speech but she reminds that the right is not absolute and has to be used with restrictions. Obulesh encourages everyone to empathise when they are interacting online.

"Making the distinction between personal and professional is quite challenging. Be really vigilant. Look at and consider any abusive comments you might be receiving online. You need to be aware of who is staring at you. Give your information, but only after a background check." Khanna shared.

Watch the panel discussion ">here.


Suggested Reading - How Parents Can Deal With Inhibitions, Challenges About Online Safety


Online Safety Summit