Profitable Provocations: A Twitter-based Study of Abuse and Misogynistic Trolling Directed at Indian Women in Public-political Life

Online violence against women has become normalized and routinized to such an extent that it has almost been rendered invisible and imperceptible. Such violence takes a range of forms and expressions, ranging from threats of rape and murder to seemingly milder forms of trolling by thousands of trigger-happy online trolls. 

This document presents a summary of the findings and recommendations from It for Change’s research study on hateful and abusive speech on Twitter directed at 20 Indian women in public-political life. The selected women belong to varied political affiliations -- those formally involved in party politics (both women who are currently holding office as well as those not in office) as well as political commentators engaged in public life such as journalists, and voices of civil society.

The broadest finding from this research is that all the women, who were a part of the sample, regardless of whether they belong to the opposition or ruling parties, whether they are perceived to be dissenters or sympathetic to the current dispensation, received some amount of abuse on the platform. None of the women were entirely spared. 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. It invariably took the form of gendered attacks on their bodies or character. The study concludes with a few recommendations for legal-institutional responses targeted at digital platforms. 

This study was undertaken as part of ‘Recognise, Resist, Remedy’, a project supported by IDRC, Canada.

Read the summary here

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