IT for Change undertook a research study of hateful, abusive and problematic speech on Twitter directed at 20 Indian women in public-political life. The mixed-method inquiry set out to investigate not only the scale, but also the nature of such pervasive online gendered violence.
You can access the entire report here.
Attesting to the pervasiveness of online misogynistic speech, the findings show that the nature and amount of abuse varied significantly depending on the woman’s intersectional location in the political field. The study also found that the abusive speech received by women in public-political life rarely had anything to do with their work or their politics, and invariably took the form of gendered attacks on their bodies or character.
Drawing attention to the distinctiveness of online gendered violence, the study examines how online trolls exploit platform affordances of virality and anonymity to devise new ways to attack and target women. Highlighting that the toxicity of trolling messages are often derived from their sheer volume and frequency, rather than only their substantive content, the report concludes with a set of recommendation for legal-institutional responses targeted at platforms.
This study was undertaken as part of ‘Recognise, Resist, Remedy’, a project supported by IDRC, Canada.