28, May 2021 | CJP Team
Citizens for Justice and Peace has sent a complaint to Twitter bringing its attention to certain abusive accounts on Twitter that indulge in a sexualised campaign against Muslim women.
The complaint has listed down some unchecked accounts that promote material that is not only pornographic but also glorifies sexual violence against Muslim women. It states that social media platforms are mostly unsafe and toxic spaces for women, but in India, Muslim women in particular are subject to an “orchestrated right-wing campaign, abused for both their gender and their religion.”
There are several such accounts on Twitter with content that demean Muslim women as “sex objects for Hindu men”. The complaint mentions how this is clearly also happening in an organized manner which is both obscene and illegal and the fact that they keep springing up on Twitter by changing their names after their accounts get (sometimes) suspended is a matter of grave concern.
The accounts in question share hundreds of pornographic videos of women in hijab every day, with inflammatory captions presenting Muslim women as objects, meant to be sexually exploited. Photoshopped pictures of Hindu men and pregnant women in saffron hijab are also widely shared by these accounts.
CJP’s complaint also focuses on the repercussions of such online activity that sees its history in the incidents of communal violence and genocidal pogroms that have damaged India’s social fabric for decades. In both the 2002 Gujarat genocidal carnage and the Muzaffarnagar pogrom of 2013 rape and gendered violence was used as a weapon of violence against Muslim women.
For instance, right before the anti-Muslim carnage broke out in Gujarat, mass distribution of hundreds of pamphlets with all sorts of messages spreading hatred against Muslims took place. One such pamphlet named Jihad inciting sexual violence against Muslim women was circulated. In the next few months 300 to 500 Muslim women were raped, killed and mass humiliated in full public view. The complaint states how this was CJP’s and its secretary, Teesta Setalvad’s first-hand experience at the time (2002).
Thereafter, the complaint lists down the various violations of the Twitter policy that disallows the targeting of people with unsolicited images or videos that contain graphic violence, adult content, or hateful imagery. The Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries And Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, require platforms like Twitter to exercise due diligence in terms of any content that is “defamatory, obscene, pornographic, pedophilic, invasive of another’s privacy, including bodily privacy, insulting or harassing on the basis of gender, libelous, racially or ethnically objectionable, relating or encouraging money laundering or gambling, or otherwise inconsistent with or contrary to the laws of India” [Rule 4(1)(b)].
Lastly, it states the several Indian Penal Code violations including sections 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 295A (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class), 298 (Uttering, words, etc., with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person), 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 505 (Statements conducing to public mischief) and 509 (Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman).
With Twitter having a large global reach and millions of users, CJP has urged that it is their moral and social obligation to take concrete steps and strict action to ensure that its platform does not become a breeding ground for targeted harassment, hateful content and sexual abuse.
(Given the extremely abusive, violent, hateful and offensive nature of the content, CJP has made a conscious decision against uploading the complaint on its website)
Feature image: Representational image by Timothy P Frakes via Wikimedia Commons.