Team CTL recently attended a discussion on How To Combat Online Misogyny in Pakistan, organized by The Last Word bookshop in collaboration with Susan Benesch of The Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, Nighat Dad of Digital Rights Foundation, Pakistan, Nabiha Meher Shaikh of Pakistan Feminist Watch and Jahanzeb Haq from Dawn.com. The event was moderated by Aysha Raja of The Last Word.
This discussion was aimed at addressing questions about not just making the internet more women-friendly, but also creating female-dominated space online in the form of counter-culture.
Whilst many online misogynists attempt to defend their hate under the banner of free speech, ultimately its effect is to shrink safe spaces available to women, especially when women (and some men) choose to fight back against the misogynist mindset. This is usually followed by a pattern of abuse that has become a trademark of online misogyny: character assassination, body shaming, rape threats and abuse directed towards women in general.
The panelists drew examples from the world over on how bystanders could help, how the grievances of women being attacked could be addressed and how the accountability of certain misogynists could be ensured, without having to resort to ‘mob justice’. In this regard, Team CTL endorses the views that the civil society, media groups and governments need to be more involved in the process, the internet needs to be a gender-neutral platform and women protection laws need to be strengthened.