With growing toxicity on Twitter, online harassment of women in India has become a menace. The perception of Internet trolls has captured the public imagination, from women either logging off to protect their mental health and safety or calling out their and other’s online harassers. Today, online violence and abuse against women has become commonplace.
India is one of the largest and fastest growing audience markets globally for Twitter, a social media platform. Touted as a ‘safe place for free expression’, Twitter was envisioned to be a space where marginalised populations, including women, Dalits and religious minorities, would have an equal opportunity to make their voices heard. Over the years, the social media platform has evolved into an indispensable tool for political engagement, campaigning and activism, but has the vision translated into reality? Many women do not believe so. Every day, women on Twitter face a barrage of abuse: from racist and sexist attacks to rape and death threats. Online abuse has the power to belittle, demean, intimidate and eventually silence women.
It’s what women have long been telling the world. We now have the data to back it up. With the help of 1,912 Decoders from 82 countries and 26 states in India, we analysed 114,716 tweets that mentioned 95 women politicians in India over a three-month period around the 2019 General Elections in India. This helped us conduct an unprecedented analysis of online abuse against Indian women politicians on Twitter!