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Is TECH with HER or Against HER?

yashodhara

Feb 08, 2021

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Women of all backgrounds have the right to use their voices as much as they want and to express themselves. Hate speech infringes the rights of women. Many of the individuals who commit such violence are very outspoken about their right to freedom of expression, ignoring how their attacks limit a woman’s freedom of expression. Hate speech is not freedom of expression, and anyone who tries to encourage online freedom of expression should be concerned with how this right for women is affected by hate speech.

Usually, women journalists, writers, and feminists are threatened with a lot of hate speech simply because they are women. Some individuals use hate speech to silence women or push them out of a specific digital space when women try to speak on online platforms. Women might also experience hate speech targeting their gender, race or ethnicity, and sexuality, especially if she is straightforward.

Today, many internet corporations are responsible for controlling online hate speech as they are the internet intermediaries who own social networks and sites that spread hate speech. As defined by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, “The corporate responsibility is to respect human rights, which means to act with due diligence to avoid infringing on the rights of others and to address adverse impacts that occur.” Therefore, these internet companies have an important role to play by taking action in ensuring that human rights are not violated. 

Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence once stated that “Parties shall take the necessary legislative and other measures to promote and protect the right for everyone, particularly women, to live free from violence in both the public and the private sphere.” Moreover, as mentioned in Article 27 (1) of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.” Hence, under the false paradox of free speech, the one thing we cannot do is to remain silent as online hate speech against women increases.

It is clear that sexist hate speech is a form of violence, and we must all play our part in preventing this form of gender-based violence, just as we have done with racism or xenophobia.

Since hate speech is aimed to silence and force and make the women out of public spaces, it negatively impacts the right to interact with culture and gain the benefits of advanced science, including technology. Hence the internet has become a central public sphere in which wide-ranging decisions are taken, policies and initiatives are discussed, views and ideas are shared, and work is carried out. Thus, fully engaging in such online culture is not only a vital part of one’s public life it is also a right to interaction. 

Consequently, those who try to use hate speech against women under the shield of free speech should be discouraged firmly. In simple words,

while gender-based violence is considered hate speech, hate speech cannot be considered as the freedom of expression.

Therefore, everyone has a responsibility in eliminating hate speech which comes in a form of gender-based violence.

Featured Image Credit: Shameless Magazine

Yashodhara Upekshani

About the Author:

yashodhara

yashodhara

Yashodhara Upekshani

Reading for B.A. Economics (Special) Hon. Degree at Department of Economics, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka. Currently working as an Intern at Sri Lanka Export Development Board. Won the “Best Research Paper Award” under the category of Undergraduate Research Forum in 8th International Conference on Management and Economics - 2019 organized by University of Ruhuna. Awarded with “MIND Scholarship for Undergraduate Students” granted for the Academic Excellency by Munasinghe Institute for Development - Colombo in 2019. Interested in researching, volunteering and social works. Volunteering as a blog writer in International Youth Alliance for Peace since November 2020.

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