One in seven tweets that Indian woman politicians received during the 2019 Indian General Elections was abusive or problematic, the CNN reported. This amounts to a whopping 10,000 abusive tweets per day. Targeted mainly towards the women politicians, the trolls and abuses aim at invalidating their voices.

Key Takeaways:

  • The study “Troll Patrol India: Exposing Online Abuse Faced by Women Politicians in Indiashows how women politicians have to face online harassment.
  • The study Amnesty International India analyzed 114,716 tweets mentioning 95 Indian women politicians in the three-months period of March-May 2019 in the lead-up to, during and shortly after the 2019 General Elections in India.
  • One in Seven tweets that Indian women politicians received during the 2019 Indian General Elections were abusive or problematic, and this amounts to around 10,000 abusive tweets per day.

Online abuse is often unreported by women. Women either tend to ignore or minimise social media engagements.

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13.8 Percent Of Tweets That Mentioned Women Were Abusive

The study titled “Troll Patrol India: Exposing Online Abuse Faced by Women Politicians in Indiaby Amnesty International India found that of all the tweets that mentioned one of the 95 women politicians,  13.8 percent were found to be abusive or problematic. The definition of problematic, according to the study is “Tweets that contain hurtful or hostile content, especially if repeated to an individual on multiple occasions but do not necessarily meet the threshold of abuse.” Moreover, religion also played a crucial role in segregating the number of abusive or problematic tweets. Muslim women politicians received 94.1% more ethnic or religious slurs than women politicians from other religions.

The study found that of all the tweets that mentioned one of the 95 women politicians,  13.8 percent were found to be abusive or problematic. In other words, there were 113 problematic tweets per woman per day.

“They are going after me, routinely. For my skin color, for my looks, telling me I’m not worth raping, or telling me what kind of torture or rape I should be subjected to,” said Kavita Krishnan, Communist Party of India, in her interview with CNN.  Alka Lamba, of Indian National Congress Party, said, ” The purpose is to silence you. So, definitely, I face trolling in my everyday life.”

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Indian Women Politicians Face Twice More Abusive Tweets Than US and UK

The study analyzed tweets only for a short span of March 2019- May 2019 and yet the number of abusive or problematic tweets faced by Indian women politicians was approximate twice the number faced by the women politicians in UK and US. Moreover, the study also found that the more prominent a woman you are, the more abuse you are bound to face. So yes, women do minimise engaging on social media as a consequence of abuse and trolling. On average, there were 113 problematic tweets per woman per day.

What Are The Reasons?

One of the biggest reasons cited for the freedom of troll brigade is, that trolling is not considered to be a crime. “Trolling is not defined as a crime. It all depends on the nature of the content. According to that, we ask the host to take the content down,” Anyesh Roy, deputy commissioner of police, Cyber Crime Unit, told CNN. Moreover, practically, there are really not many legal avenues that women can take when they face abuse on social media. There’s no accountability, and the authorities concerned aren’t that proactive in handling the situations. “They say that the truth cannot be hidden and that the truth will always be revealed, but by the time the truth does come out, the lies have gone on for so long and the damage is done,” Lamba, an INC party politician and until recently a member of the New Delhi legislative assembly, told CNN.

“We do not have any focused law to prohibit and penalize online bullying, trolling, including gender bullying and … doxing [publishing a target’s personal details online],” Dr Debarati Halder, managing director of the Center For Cyber Victim Counseling and co-author of Cyber Crimes Against Women in India told CNN.

Online Abuse Is Often Unreported

Online abuse is often unreported by women. Women wither tend to ignore or minimise social media engagements.  “You have to recognize that this kind of political violence exists both offline, as well as online, and it works to try and intimidate women, not just women in politics but women who are stepping out of line socially anyway,” Krishnan said emphatically. Even if women dare to speak against online abuse, they are labelled with playing the victim card.

Pic credit- iKNOW Politics

Also Read: Sushma Swaraj trolled over interfaith couple passport issue, takes them head on

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