Tracking Gender-Based Violence and Backlash Against Women’s Rights in the Digital Space: Cases From Bangladesh
Antara, Iffat Jahan
Nath, Shravasti Roy
Pabony, Nuha Annoor
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With the increased use of the internet and the expansion of social media platforms usage worldwide, the digital space has emerged as a “new space,” playing a central role in mediating all aspects of social, economic, and political life. As the digital space, especially Facebook, became more accessible and increasingly popular among internet users, it also turned into a medium for harassment and violence — instances that can be termed cybercrime. Although both men and women face some forms of harassment and violence, women and people of diverse gender identities and sexual orientations are specifically targeted by gender-based violence (GBV) within the digital space. In this context, as part of the research titled Countering Backlash: Reclaiming Gender Justice, the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) took the case of understanding online GBV as a form of backlash against the women’s rights movement in Bangladesh. In this paper we discuss why these specific people faced backlash in the form of violence, the types of backlash, who inflicted the backlash, and the strategies these women took to mitigate the risks. We will also detail the two national events that we followed to further highlight the span and the gruesomeness of the violence that has been happening in the digital space. The paper concludes with a discussion of the emerging issues that are being contested and appropriated by the actors of backlash.