Recognise, Resist, Remedy: Addressing Gender-Based Hate Speech in the Online Public Sphere

This collaborative project between IT for Change, India and InternetLab, Brazil addresses gender-based hate speech in the online public sphere. Supported by International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the project responds to the current reality in both countries where women are not only speaking up against patriarchy, but also claiming public-political space despite pervasive sexism and misogyny.

It adopts three main strategies: (a) highlightng blind spots in dominant legal frameworks that prevent effective recognition of sexist/misogynistic speech online as a violation of women’s rights; (b) offering ways to reform content governance and intermediary liability legislation to ensure timely redressal; and (c) building a proof-of-concept model to resist normalisation of sexist speech online.


Project Outputs

1. Why the Debate on Political Ads on Social Media is a Distraction - Article on Firstpost

This media piece by Anita Gurumurthy and Bhavna Jha is a contribution to the conversation on intermediary liability and the importance of responsibilisation of social media platforms. It argues that the law cannot become an instrument to legitimise private censorship, but must aim to slow the spread of intolerant attitudes, weaken extremist political forces, and guard against abuse by authoritarian populists, while providing judicial oversight and user right to appeal. It was originally published in Firstpost.

2. Internet Detox: A Fail-Proof Mechanism to End Online Sexism - Panel at IGF 2019

IT for Change, along with InternetLab, organised and participated in a panel on ‘Internet Detox: A Fail-Proof Mechanism to End Online Sexism’ at the Internet Governance Forum, Berlin in November 2019 which was one of the three propositions around gender to be accepted.

3. Submission on the Draft Amendment to Intermediary Guidelines Rules 2018

We shared specific recommendations on the content moderation aspects of platform governance with the relevant ministry, that addressed the overlaps between gender-based hate speech and other forms of online violence against women. Our submission to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology towards the ongoing revision of internet intermediary liability guidelines under India’s Information Technology Act, 2000, brought in considerations of tackling online sexism and misogyny.

4. Submission to the UN Special Rapporteur's Report, 'Privacy: A Gender Perspective'

Our recommendations on privacy and gender to the UN Special Rapporteur on Privacy highlighted, among other issues, the social and community surveillance of women that has a chilling effect on their participation in online publics. Our submission also outlined the challenges to regulation posed by the techno-social underpinnings of misogyny online.

5. Panel on Intermediary Liability and User Rights

IT for Change’s Bhavna Jha participated in a panel on intermediary liability organized by the Centre for Internet & Society. The panel examines sections 69 and 79 of the IT Act that permit the government to mandate intermediaries to remove/block content. The discussion focused on the procedural flaws of the law, issues of due process, and the lack of transparency in the legal process of content takedown.

6. The Pandemic and Public Space: Seeing Like a Cyberfeminist - Article on Firstpost

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown just how deep the fault lines of gender inequality run and how women’s claim to the public is but a carefully negotiated allowance given to women. In this article, Anita Gurumurthy and Bhavna Jha argue that public (including online) participation is women's first-order claim to being recognised as human beings, and the pandemic cannot be allowed to undermine that.


Focus Areas
What We Do
Resource Type
online hate speech