Sexism and the Online Publics | A Webinar Series

Sexism and the Online Publics
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IT for Change, Edelgive Foundation and IDRC, Canada.

IT for Change, with support from EdelGive Foundation and International Development Research Centre, Canada (IDRC), is bringing together legal scholars, practitioners, platform intermediaries, feminist activists and journalists in a three-part webinar series to unpack sexist hate speech online across February, in the lead up to International Women’s Day, 2021.

The stellar lineup of speakers includes Amber Sinha, Aparna Bhat, Arti Raghavan, Asha Kowtal, Mariana Valente, Mariya Salim, NS Nappinai, Rishab Bailey, Shehla Rashid, Vaishali Bhagwat, Vishal Gogne, Vrinda Bhandari, and more!

The webinar series will be open to the public, and create the much-needed space for an informed deliberation to address an issue vital to women’s fundamental rights in a democracy.

Watch all three webinars in the series here.

See the concept note for the webinar series here.

Register for the webinar series here.

Read the essays in our series, Rethinking Legal-Institutional Approaches to Sexist Hate Speech in India, here.

The series includes the following sessions:


Session 1: When does free speech become censorship? The constitutional case against sexist speech.

Watch the session here

February 10, 2021
6:00 pm to 7:30 pm IST

An oft-repeated argument against the case of online content regulation is that platforms are proven bastions of free speech. At the same time, instances of removal of content and blocking of users have led to claims of censorship on the part of platforms. The session will look at how a lack of restrictions on free speech can affect the ability of women and marginal groups to participate politically in online democratic spaces. It will focus on the constitutional role of free speech in a democracy, the necessary role of reasonable restrictions to free speech, and how to address sexist hate speech online within this larger question of defining the boundaries of free speech.

Speakers: Amber Sinha, Aparna Bhat, Asha Kowtal and Mariana Valente

Opening remarks: Naghma Mulla and Ruhiya Seward

Moderator: Divya Srinivasan


Session 2: How can we hold social media accountable for misogyny? A feminist approach to platform governance

Watch the session here

February 17, 2021
6:00 pm to 7:30 pm IST

It is an incontrovertible fact that online platforms have betrayed their gender transformative potential and instead emerged as strongholds of misogynistic hate and rising conservatism globally. In this session, we will take a closer look at how platforms have responded to complaints of misogynistic speech, as well as how they can do better both in terms of development and application of community standards, including through algorithmic techniques. The session will also venture into the possible role the law can play in setting the boundaries for platform governance.

Speakers: N.S. Nappinai (Supreme Court Advocate), Rakesh Maheshwari (Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology), Shehla Rashid Shora (Activist and Researcher, Jawaharlal Nehru University), Sanjay Sahay (Ex-Officer of the Indian Police Services)

Moderator: Gurshabad Grover (CIS)

Respondent: Nandini Chami


Session 3: How should the law deal with misogyny online? A feminist framework for legal reform.

Watch the session here

February 24, 2021
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm IST

Monopolistic private power should not be the arbiter of the limits of free speech; instead this should be done through public means by institutions that are accountable to the people. This session will discuss what such accountability may look like in relation to social media, with reflections on how laws can make for a normative basis of content regulation against misogyny. It will also explore the possibilities of transparency and justice merited through communication decency laws for platforms to behave responsibly towards an affected user base (such as emerging evidence from the German NetzDG law demonstrates).

Speakers: Arti Raghavan, Mariya Salim, Vaishali Bhagwat, Vrinda Bhandari

Chair: Hon'ble Justice Rajiv Shakdher, Delhi High Court

Moderator: Sh. Vishal Gogne, Addl. Sessions Judge, Delhi