Censorship on the Internet is frequently justified by concerns to safeguard morality or protect women. But do existing laws and initiatives support women in actual practice in confronting the considerable challenges that they face online? We investigate.
Be it online or offline, censorship measures are frequently justified by concerns to safeguard morality or protect women. While the Internet provides women with important new opportunities to express themselves, it is true that the medium also poses them with considerable challenges as old forms of harassment materialise in new shapes online. Cyberstalking and the gendered online abuse that women on the Internet face are perhaps the two most prominent examples of this.
To ensure that women’s rights are protected online as well, targeted measures may therefore at times be required. But whether existing measures actually support women in confronting the considerable challenges they face remains a question. What are women’s existing strategies to deal with abuse and harassment they face online? What do they require from the law to fight such abuse? And do India’s existing laws support them in their battles, or does the law actually curtail their ability to take their fate in their own hands? Where possibly well-intended measures end up restricting free speech in ways beyond the strictly necessary and legitimate, they only become counterproductive, as it is precisely in its potential to give women — as all of us — voice that one of the great strengths of the Internet lies.
It is such questions, then, that the Internet Democracy Project examines in greater depth. Read on to find out more.