>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Good morning, everybody. Welcome to the start of the third day at the Internet governance forum with our sex and freedom of expression online. I worked with point of view in India. Before introducing our speakers, I want to briefly tell you all a little ‑‑ just a minute. This is very distracting. It's very clear.
Okay, we're going to restart. Welcome to our session on sex and freedom of expression online. My name is Bishakha, and I work with Quarter Point of View. We're excited to have this session.
As they are saying in the room next door, a lot of young people are coming online, et cetera, and as we know, people young, old, regardless of age, gender, sexuality, ability, et cetera, use the Internet for sexual expression. By "sexual expression" I do not mean only pornography, right? Individuals use the Internet to explore their sexuality, to go on dates, to find online dating, build relationships, find romance, have sex, sexting, get sexual help information, all sorts of things. There's a wide range of things.
However, despite this being pretty much ubiquitous, sexual expression is still seen as the illegitimate child of the free expression movement. We tend to think of legitimate expression that is worth protecting or free expression as though political or religious, but we rarely put sexual expression in the same basket of free expression as something that needs to be upheld and protected in the same way as other forms of expression.
So we are going to look at the intersection of sex and freedom of expression online through a range of presentations.
To begin with, I'm going to ask Jac Kee to talk. He's a member of the MAG‑IGF to lay the ground on this issue a little bit.
>> JAC KEE: Hello. Good morning. Thank you for such of a nice participation at 9:00 a.m. on this topic. I'll share with you a little bit about some of the work we did to bring sexuality to the conversation at the IGF. I think we started talking about sexuality and freedom of expression in the IGF since maybe 2006 or '07. The concern at that time and I think still very much so was around state censorship through content filtering and blocking.
So the discussion around freedom of expression, censorship, filtering, and blocking was centered around political speech, but sexual speech was never quite seen as political speech, as Bishakha was saying. That murky area that you accept some level of expression needs to be regulated and filtered and those kinds of expression is generally sexual expression.
So sites ‑‑ websites that center around issues around lesbian, by sexual and sexual and reproductive health. Sites with information on abortion, for example, were often blocked under the purvey and category of pornography. We still see this situation now. The pornography act in Indonesia has been used to block several key LGBT sites in Indonesia. The good news is there's a lot more understanding of the important work of sexual rights activists online and the need to defend us.
For example, the resolution and protection of human rights defenders also included threats online as an important and key issue to look at. So there's definitely more recognition in this aspect. Why is sexual speech political speech? Because sexuality is one of the areas that really is ‑‑ is one of the factors that actually regulates ‑‑ how do I put this? My brain is like stopping at 9:00 a.m.
Sexuality is one of the most heavily regulated aspects of life. It's a thing that's being used to regulate what we can do, where we can go, what we can say, how we can dress and who we interact with and the things we get protection from. However, it's one of those things that, again, is not very overt, and discrimination and exclusion on the basis of sexuality is something that a lot of our women's rights and sexual rights groups have been advancing for a long time.
Sexuality has always been instrumentalized as a way to regulate behavior and citizenship. So, for example, through marriage and divorce and through religion and criminalization of particular forms of sexual subjectivities. For people that face discrimination because of they are sexuality, whether there's sex workers or LGBT persons or women that want to make choices about their sexual bodies, they really need a space that is ‑‑ where they're able to have accurate, unbiased information about sexuality and sexual health, and this space is really critical so that ‑‑ because it affects their right to life and health, and to be able to have a space where they can find a community to get support and form relationships, because this, again, affects the right to associate and the right to family life.
It's important for them to be able to find a space to be able to mobilize and organize for change. So this affects the right to public participation, the right to assemble and importantly, a space to change perception, challenge prejudice and counter discrimination and to simply be who they are. This is at the heart of it the right to expression, and this is why this is a very important conversation to have in this space.
So we started looking at this, APC, that is. We did a research called EROS-ICTs. Exploratory Research on Sexuality and ICTs, basically. We saw that ‑‑ we recognized the Internet as becoming this critical, emerging space for expression and information. For assembly and association, and for intimacy and forming relationships. We did in‑depth research with different communities starting from 2008, and we have research partners here as well.
We really tried to understand what is the value of the Internet for the work of sexual rights, to advance sexual rights, as well as some of the challenges and the threats faced. We did our studied in ‑‑ how many countries? We did it in the U.S., in South Africa, in Brazil, in Lebanon, India, now in Nepal, Sri Lanka and Indonesia and we tried to understand what it means with developing countries. What is the value of the Internet in advancing sexual rights in those locations? We worked with trans communities and sex worker communities and young people and LGBT groups and so on.
We also did a global survey, and we did this in 2013 and again in 2014 and we're trying to redo this again in 2016 to try and do a kind of overall mapping with sexual rights activists in different countries to understand what is the value of the Internet in their work and whether the specific kinds of threats they faced.
I can share with you some of the findings from 2013. It's a little bit dated, but it might still be useful. What we found is that 98% of respondents said that the Internet was critical in their work. The kinds of threats and challenges that they faced ranged from blocking and filtering to intimidation to the dissemination of private information without their consent. And about ‑‑ what's 27 plus 27?
>> JAC KEE: There you go. 54% basically was really felt that they had huge difficulties in responding to some of the these challenges. It ranged from getting technical help to stopping to do what they were doing. So the Internet gatekeepers ‑‑ the gatekeepers that they saw were very central in terms of regulating of what they were doing first was government and then ISPs and social networking companies. I think this would change now to reflect a lot more the role of social networking companies as content gatekeepers online.
The topics most likely censored or regulated or filtered, the largest was pedophilia and followed by obscenity and sex and breast, which is about 59%. The reasons for government regulation of the Internet ‑‑ this is really looking at State regulation ‑‑ the biggest reason was protection of child followed very, very closely by public decency. What it encapsulated is really quite broad.
So what we wanted to do with this in‑depth research as well as this global monitoring survey was to start to build evidence to understand the phenomena and the shape and extent of this issue. What is the actual dimensions of this problem? What are the different components of it? To also inform policy‑making.
Some of this research has been shared with the special rapporteur with the freedom of expression and included in his recent report on encryption and anonymity. The porn of anonymity to create this space safe for expression and for all of the other rights which expression enables, especially for people facing a lot of discrimination and exclusion on the basis of their sexuality.
So sexual expression is really subjective to a range to very, very complex regulation both by society, by States, and also increasingly by the private sector, because the space in which sexual expression is happening. Hopefully this session will then be able to facilitate a conversation around this. Thank you.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Thank you very much. Can we have a round of applause? Thank you.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: The next speaker is Smita (phonetic), and she will talk about the value of anonymity in upholding freedom of expression particularly with examples from India.
>> SPEAKER: Hi. Good morning. So I'll be speaking about anonymity in relation to the LGBT community. It's one of the most attractive features of Internet. It can be misused, but anonymity is extremely critical for speaking out. A special rapporteur for freedom of expression says it leads to online security, and to individuals it means to protect their privacy empowering them to browse, read, and share information without interference. It goes on to say more things, but basically the gist of anonymity is important for a lot of communities.
In about 76 countries right now there are laws that prohibit homosexuality and criminalize LGBT relationships or propaganda of homosexuality like in Russia and Lithuania. In India after there was a crackdown on the popular gay cruising sites, a lot of gay and bisexual men went to other sites to meet others. Here the fact that they could say anonymous and make user names without their actual names played a huge role, and in 2006 there were actually four men arrested by the police because one of them found ‑‑ one of the men's profiles on a dating site and later trapped the four men. They arrested them under the conspiracy to commit sodomy, whatever that means.
If the anonymity of the person was maintained, they wouldn't be arrested. Lesbian and bisexual women in India use dating sites to meet others and form a community and support system there. Homosexuality is acknowledged by the law, and that among women is not because how can women be gay? They need the man.
Trans persons across the world have been making profiles online with their preferred gender identities because in many cases it's extremely dangerous for them to come out in the physical life to friends and family or even in workspaces. In Malaysia there have been instances of police infiltrated queer forums to get data on the members there. In Lebanon it would not exist for the fact that the lesbian women there could stay anonymous online.
In Egypt the bloggersphere played a role there. These are just instances where anonymity played a huge role in the members of the community. Finding out more about their sexuality and identities and coming to terms with it and meeting people to speak about it to and forming a community and support system.
The cyberspace has given the queers a change to challenge the idea that gender is man or woman or even sexual identities. It's homosexual or heterosexual. It's a spectrum, and the cyberspace has given people a chance to actually see and explore this spectrum. The very ‑‑ in many cases the very act of a person creating a profile online has been an act of defiance, because it takes a lot to even create a profile saying that when you're a born a man saying you want to be ‑‑ are actually a woman. A very recent incident that happened recently. I don't know how many of you know about Qandeel Baloch from Pakistan.
Qandell was ‑‑ so she had a YouTube channel, and she spoke about her ‑‑ she was a single woman. Her taken name is Qandeel Baloch. She ran this YouTube channel where she should speak up about herself and sexuality and about the religious laws in Pakistan and so on. Recently her identity was revealed.
After that she started to get a lot of trolling online and death threats and rape threats. She was recently killed by her own brother after her identity came to light.
This is a very, very significant example of how anonymity would have protected her in her physical as well as spiritual life. The right to anonymity is a right essential for a lot of people's safety not just online but also offline. It frees them by allowing them to have an identity without being seen, and that, I think, is very important, especially in terms of free expression because if you can't speak freely, you won't speak at all. Thank you.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Great. Thank you very much, Smita, for an excellent first time ever presentation at the Internet Governance Forum.
We now have our next speaker, Jyotsna Maskay, from LOOM in Nepal, who will talk about the situation related to sexuality and reproductive health and online expression in Nepal. I can try and get this here.
>> JYOTSNA MASKAY: Good morning, everyone. We're a feminist organization based in Kathmandu, and we work in gender and sexuality. Right now I'm going to talk about sexuality and Internet in the context of Nepal. Horn is considered the most important thing in our country and this depends on how the women exhibit qualities that include dressing and acting in a modest fashion to getting married to a person chosen by family at an appropriate age.
These values and traditional beliefs instilled in the society reflect laws that regulate women's freedom of expression and bodily autonomy. We have some advances in laws, obviously. Nepal has ratified many international laws and our constitution even addresses reproductive health as a fundamental right.
Nepal is the first for Asian countries to provide citizenship for sexual minorities in the others categories. We have also legalization of abortion and criminalization of (indiscernible). There are some setbacks when we talk about sexual in Nepal, we're more focused on reproductive health and family planning. There are less discussions on sexuality and sexual freedom and gender expression and relationships.
A review of studies on the sexual and productive health of unmarried adolescents found that they have poor knowledge of sexual and productive health issues. When there is less space to talk about sexuality offline, mass media and Internet have become commonly used sources to get SR information, and this is more significant especially in the case of the LGBT community.
However, with the regulation of content of the Internet on the Internet by the government, the government is taking away the spaces, too, from the people. For example, more than 100 sites are banned in Nepal, and this is less space to talk about sexuality in Nepal. For example, public offense act is used to limit a wide range of behavior that dominant society deems unacceptable.
The Constitution of the country ensures freedom of expression and opinion and the right to communication as fundamental rights of all citizens. All the provisions qualifying both articles say that the State may impose restrictions on any act which may be contrary to public morality and decency. The regulation of spaces online can take place in the form of harassment and abuse.
Women who are vocal about their opinions and views have received rape and death threats. When it comes to sexual rights and sexuality, many women's rights don't talk about it online with the fear of being seen as not serious or inviting harassment.
This has pushed women in particular to sanction themselves online and limit their participation. For example, one of the women's rights activists stated that ‑‑ stated in her research that LOOM is currently doing that we started to realize it late that a lot of people who were getting trolled online were all women.
The majority of the country's men hold a political opinion that we do as well, but none of these men were trolled. While talking about LGBTI, they used apps like grinder, scruff, and planet Romeo for dating. In Facebook they don't show their original identities but use fake IDs instead to express their thoughts and sexuality.
According to our research, which is still in the rough ‑‑ which is still ‑‑ this is not a final research, but it's in the draft stage. 52% of women's rights activists experience at least one incident of online violence themselves. Among them, most have reported ‑‑ most of them have reported having faced harassment, infringement of privacy and damage to reputation and credibility.
All transgender respondents and 84% of those identifying as gay or lesbian or bisexual reported having been subjected to violence online. Thank you very much.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Thanks very much. Again, your first ever talk at the IGF. Thank you so much.
Our next speaker is (indiscernible) from the Women and Media Collective from Sri Lanka. Sepali had to leave because she's organizing the human rights session in the main conference room, so she won't be able to participate any longer. Whichever you're comfortable with.
>> SPEAKER: Thanks. Good morning, everyone. I'm from the Women and Media Collective in Sri Lanka. Just to tell about a research we published recently, it's a national research study on the region's fundamentalism and sexual and reproductive rights of girls.
This was conducted with the collective together with the research center for women. It was conducted over the period of October 2014 to April 2015. The purpose of the study was to contribute to the knowledge base on factors that influence SRHR policy and practice and develop a strong evidence base on emerging challenges that impede women from achieves sexual and rights and accessing related services.
Victory in the war between the ethnic groups created a space for discourse of the majority Buddhist population to shift its focus to perceived threats by religious minorities. There was an emergent Buddhist groups and attacks on places of worship on minorities and on communities of other religions and ethnicities. In the ideologies and augmentation used, women's roles in society and reference to their bodies were to perpetuate statements of hate and extremism.
Though the online discourse is based on a clear high archery of liberties between women and men. Girls have to narrowly define religion norms, and men are denigrated with equal fervor. It's difficult to seek meaning redress and demand actability despite the fact that perpetrators of online hate speech is identifiable to the extent of their associated personal accounts.
Representation and conversation around three areas were selected on the basis of, A, a review of literature and observations of the discourse online. B, informal conversations with individuals working in the field of women's rights. C, coverage and commentary in mainstream media.
An attempt was made to collect data across all three languages. Multiple Facebook accounts were searched and additional material was gathered on Facebook as well as Google using keywords with some times highlighted several accounts.
The selection included those of hate groups, prominent media or Civil Society organizations as well as publicly known individuals or activists. The post‑war period saw the start of a Buddhist group also known in English as the Buddhist Power Force.
The latter has emerged as a prominent hate group in post‑war Sri Lanka and is guided by a single ideology. While much debate is taking on the positive and negative impacts and outcomes on religious extremism in the public and private spheres, there was one event that can be recorded as an expression of protest and expression of this ideology.
A candlelight vigil to promote harmony and to take a stance against perceived racism was held on the evening of April 2, 2013. Members of the Facebook group had previously described the event followers as your vigil against hatred and bigotry which is sadly promulgated by monks.
At the vigil they were extensively photographed by members of the BBS or allies. In the days that followed the women in particular that participated in the vigil were attacked on social media. Personal photos and data were stolen from their accounts and used in hey smear campaign.
There are strong sexual overtones that called into question the moral standing of the participants dismissing them as nightclub Buddhist who couldn't speak ideas or philosophy. Women wearing sleeveless clothes or anything transparent were immediate targets.
In the aftermath of this smear campaign being launched across the Facebook pages of multiple hate groups, women experienced a very real sense of fear for their personal safety.
In the case of one of the individuals who shared her archive for the study, the following took the form of criticism from her relatives as well as her employer. She left Facebook and says she's unlikely to get back on. Her case is an example of how online intimidation can have far‑reaching, long‑term consequences and can effectively silence descent. One picture depicted a girl in a bikini.
They thought it was acceptable for swimming but not as fashionable wear women would be photographed in. They take photos to show boys. The girls identified as lesbians intended to speak for the women's character.
A comment was this whole group on night-clubbing, drunken women and lesbians, we know the character of the whole lot. One of the explanations put forward on a hate site to justify the smear campaign was to say they were doing a service to the single Buddhist nation because they were exposing women other faiths promoting an alternative agenda and undermining their cause.
These Facebook challenges illustrate the ways in which women's bodies, and sexuality and roles become sexist platforms where it's articulated. These conversations show deeply engrained perceptions regarding class and association of the urban with loose morals and lack of belonging in comparison with an overly romanticized image of the women.
Both these strands of arguments are couched in terms it of expectations that woman conform to expected gender roles where there's no space for nonconformity. It showed that women in it experienced routine objectification, very different sexually explicit threats, intolerance for their intent and ridiculing of their choices.
Women that chose to speak up faced a backlash that targeted them not on the content of the argument but for their temerity in having an opinion on making a choice not in keeping with notions of a good woman.
Women targeted online experienced consequences offline, whether at home or at work. The online place is a difficult one for women to seek redress and demand accountability despite the fact that perpetrators of hate speech are clearly identifiable links to their accounts that display their full name, city of residence and even where they attend school or currently work.
Across the research is became evident that women were excluded from discussions that pertained to their own body autonomy and sexual freedom. The Platt to remember did allow women to carve out spaces for self‑expression and dissent in the pushback recorded. The fact perpetrators of people with hate speech and violence online with impunity is part a reflection of its political context. Thank you.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Thank you.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Thank you for that very valuable contribution from Sri Lanka reminding us of the good woman/bad woman divide. Once again, congratulations on your first ever presentation at the Internet Governance Forum.
Before we go to the last speaker, I'm going to do a very short two‑story interjection where I shift us to the darker side of sexual expression. I want to talk about two words difficult to talk, obscenity and pornography.
Obscenity, a story from India. In India in the last four or five years, we've had a number of cases of what are called rape videos. By a rape video I do not mean what is called rape pornography online, right, where porn sites enact rape or what I refer to as the consensual performance of a nonconsensual act. That is a different thing.
When I talk about rape videos, what I'm talking about is the situation where gangs of men accost girls or women who they meet offline in physical spaces, in villages, in small towns, in big cities. They rape them. They then take videos of the rape itself, and these are then distributed. Sometimes they're sold.
They circulate very, very widely on WhatsApp, which is the biggest social media platform used in India, and Facebook, et cetera. The Supreme Court of India has just sent a notice to Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo! and a bunch of other social media platforms asking what these platforms intend to do about this kind of nonconsensual pornographic content that is online.
This is clearly a crime. Rape is a crime against consent. Filming a rape is a second crime against consent and distributing is a third crime against consent. We cannot even imagine that this can be called consensual sexual expression.
The problem is that in our information technology act, we do have a section, section 66‑E, which prohibits ‑‑ which punishes crimes where images of private parts are circulated without consent. And as women's sexuality rights activists, we believe this is the right place for these crimes to be lodged, right?
Along with certain sections of the Indian Penal Code. Rape is Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code. That can't be under the IT act. However, what we observe over the last five years, and that's part of our research and we have lots of data to back this up, is that instead of filing these cases under this provision, the police are uniformly filing it under another provision of the information technology act, which is section 67, which prohibits content that is less severe and purulent. These are proxy works for obscenity, right? This is a problem.
This is a problem because it, first of all, misclassifies a crime. This is a problem because it converts a woman's rights violation into a test of public morals, right? So this is just one thing I want to lay out, and it's our belief although we don't have the research to back it up because we do the study. We're tracking stuff in our neighboring countries, and it is our belief that at least in South Asia this is pretty much what is happening. So more and more legal discourse is believing that obscenity is the prime harm in nonconsensual sexual expression rather than a violation of consent and the right to privacy. Okay? That's one story.
The second story is about pornography. We recently in Mumbai did a workshop called imagine a feminist Internet where we introduced participants to the feminist principles of Internet, including the one about pornography. Since it's difficult to discuss, particularly online pornography and particularly in India, given that there is a case in the Supreme Court asking for online pornography to be banned as well as a petition in parliament asking for only online pornography to be banned, it's just a very complex discussion. Pornography makes people uncomfortable. Online pornography makes peen even more uncomfortable, because now widely accessible.
So what we did was we asked people let's do an exercise where we list the benefits and the harms of pornography. What was nice was the minute we introduced it, someone started laughing, and I said, why are you laughing? He said, well, because never ask us to think about the benefits of pornography. We only think about pornography as harmful, right?
What was very interesting is that the benefits, when they were listed and we had five groups predominantly women, a few trans persons and a few men, the benefits were, one, that it in a vacuum, in a country like India where we do not have sex education in schools, where families do not talk about sex with their kids, and, of course, young people are curious. All of us were when we were young. The way kids learn about sex or the way young people or anybody learns about sex is online.
Often it's through Google and very, very often through pornography, right? That is both the benefit and a harm. The benefit is that it actually opens up a domain that you never speak about in the offline world. The harm is that depending on the kind of pornography sites you visit, your education around what is sex gets unduly shaped by that, right? I'm not going too much more into this.
Just to say that I think all our participants were very clearly able to differentiate between certain benefits, and the benefits are people of different gender identity, say trans people, can go online and find images of trans people having sex on pornographic websites, which is something that really does not exist in the physical world, right? This population then becomes invisible. People with disabilities have talked about how you can have ‑‑ if you're a visually impaired woman, you can listen to audio porn, which, again, this is not something we like have access in the physical world.
The people were also able to very clearly talk about the harms of pornography, and the harms ranged from, again, nonconsensual pornography to sort of very exaggerated, stereotypical images of women, right? We all know what I'm talking about without going into specifics.
Also, the whole issue of mainstream pornography sites really be catering to men. Whereas, other alternative sites being able to sort of cater to a range of human experience in the sexual domain. Where I want to end actually is by saying that when we think about online pornography, it's very importance for policymakers and all of us to think about three things. What are the benefits? What are the harms? What are the harms that we are actually imagined harms, and what are the harms that are actual harms.
We believe, from a sexual rights perspective, that legislators have a role to play in protecting people from the actual harms of pornography, but that regulation has no role to play in protecting people from the imagined harms of pornography or the sort of moral panics around it.
I just wanted to throw this in, because it's a very difficult issue to talk about. I'm aware that people may not agree with what I have said, and we would welcome discussions. Just wanted to get the whole arc of sexual expression in there.
Our final speaker now is ‑‑ I'm going to put on my moderator hat suddenly. Our final speaker is Olga Cavalli from Argentina and is the director of the South School of Internet Governance, which has been in operation since 2009. Fantastic.
>> OLGA CAVALLI: Thanks to you. I'm very honored to be in this panel. I told you I'm not an expert in this field. All that I know in this field is because of my daughter. She is an activist fighting for the rights for women, and so I know many things from her. She's 21 and very active. Thank you very much.
I commend you for talking so frontally about things that nobody wants to talk about, especially in my country. It's like especially the government doesn't want to talk about many things, and I think that's a big mistake. I would like to talk about some events that have happened in Argentina where Internet had a major role, especially in gathering people in different protests. One of the protests had a lot of coverage by media, and this is something I would like to refer to.
How the media covered this gathering was for women.
They have been fighting about the fact that one woman is killed in Argentina every 30 hours, which is, for me, enormous. Why especially is because of sexual abuse and many these gatherings of these women are made through the Internet. So there were several that were convened using the Internet. One was last year, and this year was one in the largest city of Argentina that gathered 70,000 women from all over the country and also from other countries in Latin America. This movement has been also replicated in other cities in Latin America in the world, and they call themselves feminazi. My daughter is one.
When they protest, they go on the street and also they do in schools workshops about things that they think are interesting for the cause. In Rosario they held 300 workshops, and then they go to the streets and sometimes do paintings in some places of the city, which, of course, is very much rejected as something that is ‑‑ should not be done.
And also some of the them are partially saying that's obscenity or something that's really terrible. So the interesting ‑‑ the press talks about it like it's extremely violent. That it's a horrible gathering. That the hate comes again, the violent, women, blah, blah. What they say is there are many other gatherings that also do paintings and also produce a lot of dirt in the city, maybe much more than they do. I'm not favoring that they paint. It's something that I talk to them and said, maybe you have to think about it.
That's what they do. And they say nobody in the press talks about the dirt that is generated by some other gatherings that have a different focus. Maybe more religious‑oriented or social‑oriented. It's very interesting to see how this ‑‑ how this is covered by the press. Not everything is so bad in Argentina.
I would also like to stress some regulations that I think are positive. We have the law for equal sex marriage, we call it (speaking in Spanish). It's the first country in Latin. We have it since 2010. We have a law for transsexual and transvestites to work at the national government, because if not, they have to be only working as prostitution.
So they have this opportunity. There's no way that they can find another job.
We have a very interesting law since 2012, which is identity of gender. You can go to the government and select the gender and the name that you want, not the one that you were born with. We still have a way to go about prevention, education, and that's my comments for the moment. Thank you very much for the invitation.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Thank you. Okay. We would now like to, first of all, thank you very much. I think it's been a really interesting set of presentations, and we really like opened up the whole thing. We've also ‑‑ I think it's very evident how gender and sexual expression are deeply linked through many of the presentations.
So we would now like to open it up to the floor for comments, questions, reactions, feedback, et cetera.
>> AUDIENCE: Good morning. My name is Beatrice and I'm from Brazil. I study material online. I don't know if I have a question. It's more like I'm wondering about things listening to you.
Anonymity is important online, but it enables people to perpetuate certain times of violence. In Brazil in Rio this year we had an event of a girl who was raped by 33 men who filmed it and posted it on Twitter. The entire public opinion and the media was focusing on talking about the fact that she was 16, and she was sexual active, and she already had a daughter.
Not the fact that she was raped, and that somebody filmed it and somebody posted it online. Twitter did really nothing, not much about it. Only after feminists gathered together online and started to pressure. I see the Internet as a double‑effect, and it enables us to protect ourselves, to gather and fight for rights. It also creates this possibility of violence that in terms of scale was never seen before. It was very interesting to hear you say it.
I'd like to hear more people talk about anonymity.
>> AUDIENCE: Good morning, everyone. I'm from Brazil, too. I'm a federal prosecutor, and it was very good that she spoke before me, because we were thinking about the same case. It was huge in Brazil, and I think a lot of people heard about that. The question ‑‑ it's a question about what you saw in India with the ISPs and providers that sometimes we deal with hate crimes, too. When you talk about child pornography, it's easier to take off online and take out of the Internet. Considering other pornography, we have some still ( indiscernible ) and this case was a huge example about this. It was uploaded, and it was shut down. I would like to know in your countries how the ISPs are dealing with it. Do they wait? It's a concern there for us. Thank you.
>> AUDIENCE: I think that the anonymity is protected and not just a false conversation. To be really anonymous on the Internet, I think it's a fairy tale for the user. Anything can transmit online. Stop sour is a log, and mainly the first log provider in the country.
So people can be more expert about government and a specific unit in the cybercrime unit.
We have to act very fast on children's issues, because they have units that are connected that look at images and look at the meta data. When it's about the women or not confirming an individual, it's political, because it's the sexuality of the actors that want to be ‑‑ that has to be moralized and controlled.
That's why I don't think it's the right conversation to be right or wrong. We live in States of surveillance. They know everything about us, so if they want to, they can. They don't always want it. It's not a top priority of the State, the safety of the single individual. The priority of the State is that the paranoia about the terrorists, the bad guys. The bad girls, of course, cannot be said because they're by default bad girls. If most of the girls, the most you are not confirming the Les important it is on a scale. I think we need to reframe the conversation.
>> AUDIENCE: Hello. Before I speak your name is Beatrice. Excuse me, ma'am your name? First, I think your speech just now was very spot‑on. Absolute anonymity is a fairy tale. We can have some degrees of anonymity that are almost always breakable, if someone is sufficiently interested in breaking your anonymity.
Beatrice, I just ‑‑ I came here very late, so I have an understanding of the debate. The issue of anonymity towards this particular case in Rio is not very, shall I say ‑‑ are different issues. Yes. Because I study LGBT issues, and in my studies my perspective is anonymity is often a tool for protection of LGBT individuals.
I am out of the closet. I don't center to hide that I'm gay. Many people do for very good reasons. That's why I defend anonymity.
In the case of this ‑‑ that tragedy that happened in Rio, it's ‑‑ the social ‑‑ the social response in Brazil, it's an issue. It was a big issue that we will discuss for years and years to come, and the ‑‑ the barbaric is 33 men raping one. It's so sick. These issues while incredibly important don't relate to anonymity, actually, at least as I see it. Thank you.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Thank you very much for the first set of questions, and let's ‑‑ anonymity is clearly a big issue, right? Could you just introduce yourself before finishing and your country? Yes.
>> AUDIENCE: I'm Gustavo Paiva from Brazil.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: This in a big issue in Brazil since three of our four speakers have been from Brazil. We have a question on remote. Erika. Thanks.
>> ERIKA SMITH: I'm looking for the name of the person that's ‑‑ I can't. I can't stand up and read at the same time. Sorry. The participant that is connecting ‑‑ sorry. It's a bit slow, is from Nepal. I'm sorry for not saying your name correctly I'm sure.
The person has both a comment, observation and a question.
The comment is as follows. New social media are evolving where teenage girls are exploited knowing or unknowingly. They do it live and it's recorded and further uploaded at other video sites. Those they prohibit nudity going live, but you can see nude content of underage girls in other video websites.
Then the question attached to that is, how can we solve this as a social media prohibits nudity but in other video websites it's up loaded as sexual content? The person shared their name again.
(Indiscernible) from Nepal.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Thank you, Erika. Shall we go back to want panel to get the first round of responses? Anybody. It's up not mandatory for anybody to speak, but anybody who would like to comment.
>> Hi. Thank you for saying the point. That's exactly what I wanted to see. Just to add like to that, like any other right of anonymity doesn't exist in a vacuum. If you use one right to violate someone else's right you should be punished. I think when that is the case in the offline spaces the same as online spaces. Thank you.
>> SPEAKER: Thank you. I fully agree, and I think there is a big discussion about this platform relation uploading content. I think if it's a crime, it should be punished. I'm not sure I agree anonymity is always the best, and if it's a crime, they should find a way to know who or from where this crime was committed. I think that you made a very interesting point.
Every time these crimes are committed, the focus is, oh, she had very strange clothing. She was young and provoking. Nobody is focusing on the real crime, which is extremely disturbing, and I think it's ‑‑ we should be ‑‑ we should be more strong about bringing this message to our lawmakers and regulators, and also I would like to stress the fact that this gathering of women in Argentina were also claiming for legal abortion, which I think it's a most important right for women, and that is totally avoided especially in most countries of Latin America.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Let me make a couple of comments particularly with reference to the things you raised. What's interesting about anonymity from the India context, in the rape videos I was talking about, it's very interesting that it's the opposite of anonymity. Not only the woman was raped, but the men that are the rapists take pride in actually showing themselves.
So it's become like a bragging act, and you know, from a prosecution perspective what's interesting is they he use it as evidence to show their friends. Hey, I did this. Visual evidence, but it's also being used by the law to actually prosecute them as legal evidence, because it's ‑‑ right. So it's a very weird situation where these crimes are being fueled by the opposite of anonymity for the desire for one part of the crime.
You don't actually show what you did, and it's sort of a very, very scary, hyper masculinity type of thing expressed, right? Again to follow‑up on what Olga said, if we look at gender and how it intersects with sexuality, the problem in the Brazil case that we all followed very closely, instead of focusing on the crime, the focus is always about the woman's sexual behavior or the girl's sexual behavior.
That is a gender issue, because the presumption is that women shouldn't be having sex except within marriage, et cetera, and the media tends to sort of, you know, highlight the breaking of that norm much more than the actual commission of the crime, which is a deep, deep problem. In terms of I wanted to answer your one question about child pornography and stuff. You know, again, sort of wrapping up some of the things even with the anonymity, I think what we are seeing on the panel, I think we all agree that, yes, absolutely anonymity is a fairy tale in the surveillance age. Totally.
That said, there is a degree of anonymity that we all have, and I think we're all trying to say that as long as it doesn't harm anybody, as long as it's not a crime or a violation or harm, leave it alone. Protect that right. But as with all rights, the minute my right becomes your harm, we need action.
From the platforms, you know, from the governments, from legislators, et cetera, so similarly I will take that back to pornography and now child pornography we agreed is a harm. So it's off the table should you need to take it off. In terms of adult pornography, what we see as the real harm is nonconsensual pornography.
We would actually say that legislators in India, we had a case where the government blocked 857 pornography sites. There was a huge outcry, after which the government again put them back. So it achieved nothing either way, right? Like just five days of screaming and shouting.
But the thing is if we were serious about tackles the harms of pornography, why is it that we do not have policymakers asking porn sites to clearly flag content ‑‑ consent on the site itself, right? These are regulatory problems. It's possible for governments around the world to say well, fine, this is an adult pornography site. Can you have some sort of consent indication, and we see actually many alternative smaller porn sites are doing this where they have like a little ‑‑ you have terms of service. You have a visual thing saying all the performers in this have consented, et cetera, et cetera. So you can hold them to that standard.
The second thing is I would actually argue that, one, you set up the standard. This is my personal opinion. If the standard is violated, treat it as a crime.
So take like ‑‑ ensure only consensual pornography online. It's not going to happen tomorrow. That which is not consensual has to be taken off, whether it's a site, an app, or social media, et cetera, and whether it's platforms. Everybody has to take responsibility for this, right?
I think the deeper issue is that honestly we have a deep crisis of consent online. We don't have an ethics of consent. We see it in everything from people who just take somebody's photo, use it even in a nonsexual way. Who take someone's e‑mail address and make it public or someone's information. So part of that responsibility has to also come from us as users. Who is the Internet ultimately? It's us. Yeah.
Should we go to any more comments or questions? We have two hands up there and three.
>> AUDIENCE: Good morning. I'm Natasha from Namibia. How important is it literacy is to ensure mother people understand it. I'm a freedom of expression activists, but one of the big problems I have with our movement is we rarely talk about the responsibilities with freedom of expression. How important is it for people to understand what media is and the power of it and how we can actually use it to bring about positive change? Thank you.
>> AUDIENCE: I'm from Sri Lanka. While I agree with the last mentioned position on con sensual and nonconsensual, that demarcation and the need for standards, things can actually get murky even where consensual is very young adults are involved. A situation that we are increasingly seeing in Sri Lanka is that on the apps, young adults, teenage girls and boys sext each other, and after a while those images shared in confidence are going to ‑‑ into ‑‑ you know, into unintended places like drop boxes where it's collected and shared. When that confidence is breached, things can go wrong. They do often go wrong.
That is why we discuss the consensual part of it, I think the need for parallel cyber literacy and the need especially for young adults to be very, very aware of the downstream spilling out of these images, that I think is very necessary. We just wanted to flag that.
>> AUDIENCE: Hello. I'm Carlos from Honduras. I'm part of the Junior IGF program. I have a question for the panel. I'm 23 years old, and in my 23 years in life in my country, they never told us anything about the education. I think part of that big problem is uneducated people. So I like ‑‑ thank God I got the Internet for LGBTQ part of my life. I want to know how we can do as youth and people to push our government to really give education to the people in that part of the sexual part of our lives. That's a big part of it.
>> AUDIENCE: Hello. Maarten from Germany. I have a question to the panel, because you already said that anonymity is more of an illusion than anything. How would you envision your safe space, or do you have any good practices in terms of safe spaces? Because also in Europe we had similar issues that Grinder was used by extremists to hunt down gay people. Even explicitly declared safe spaces are intrusive and abused for these kinds of situations.
>> AUDIENCE: Edwin here. I wanted to respond to the gentleman from Sri Lanka that mentioned about sexting and the original content provided in the production of the content. What is important, I think, goes back to the consent basis. There's a consent in terms of production, but also consent in terms of distribution. Once that consent is removed, if, you know, one of the actors removed that consent, the further distribution is an act that is not acceptable. So I think we need to protect that aspect of it as well. It's not just the consent in terms of production, and also that consent can be revoked in those cases. That's my point.
>> AUDIENCE: Hi, I'm from Barbados and I'd like to ask the panel your views on advocacy in jurisdictions ‑‑ I think India might come into this. You have laws that outlaw certain behaviors like the rape videos and that sort of thing, but there's an inertia or willingness because of culture to prosecute these crimes because it's not important. I want to ask you what your role is on the role of advocacy of changing that attitude in your various countries.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Last question from here. Just put up your hand. Thank you.
>> AUDIENCE: It's more like a comment. I'm also curious, too. I think that consent is very underestimated, and the reason is the clear trend, especially from the big corporations, to make consistent as the thing in the box. After that, there is no consent. So I'm also interested to see how the young generation that are born into this environment, how they fight for their own consent to be accepted and to be there and to be fully informed and meaningful.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: We will now up and listen to the responses of the seven comments and questions that came up. So, remember, we have covered a wide span from media to literacy to sexting to cultures that prevent convictions around rape, advocacy, anonymity, consent related to platforms, et cetera. Who would like to comment on any of this? Please.
>> SPEAKER: Thank you. I would like to focus on your comment about education. This is a major issue. Brazilian? Right? I think in Latin America nobody wants to talk about the issues. It's hidden in the dark. It's like abortion is not an issue and doesn't happen. It impacts mostly poor women, because women that have money can solve the problem. Women that don't, then they die.
That is the responsibility of the State and government to take the security of women as also something morning and nobody talks about that and sometimes they know how to take care of themselves so you would prevent undesired pregnancy, for example, or undesired diseases or undesired use of videos or not content ‑‑ you don't know. So I think education is a role ‑‑ is a major role of the State, but I think in our region nobody talks about that.
So having these people being active and saying things, it's relevant. So I'm very sad that the media is taking this protest as such ‑‑ as a bad thing, and that it's violence and it's not desired. I think that is a very wrong way of taking a very, very illegal and desired protest. I will stop here. Maybe I'll comment after that.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Before we move to the next speaker, just a quick to what you were saying, how do we actually get governments to start offering education related to sexuality, right? Big problem in India where sex education has been banned in several States by the government.
What's happening is now is nonprofit organizations take this role, but there's no way we can cover the whole country. It's impossible, and neither should it be our responsibility. I mean, an interesting argument is to actually lobby with governments saying, hey, you know, instead of like ‑‑ well, as we said in the discussion about benefits and harms of pornography. One of the benefits is you get sex education and one harm is it's not always the right kind of sex education. That can be used with governments to say well, you know what? Except you give us sex education, to mitigate some of the wrong kind of sex education we learned from porn. Those arguments can be used, but it's a tough fight to be honest, yeah.
>> SPEAKER: In relation to the question about the media, in terms of Sri Lanka, yes, there is we find mainstream and online media has yet to recognize women's rights, in terms of recognizing that women have a right to be anonymous, and especially in terms of if there's an issue. For example, there was a gang rape of a young girl in the North, and her images were shared all over the media, online as well as offline. What the media did not recognize is that it shouldn't be shared. There are ethics involved, and this is something that they just look past.
That caused definitely more impact on the families involved and concerned, so that's something that media in general online and offline need to consider, and they're not yet there when it comes to ethics.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Okay. Would you like to? Okay.
>> SPEAKER: This is in response to the digit although literacy point the gentleman over there was making. I completely agree with you. Digital literacy is important with the increasing amount of Internet influence in our lives. One thing we have to remember when providing additional training is you can't just say don't send your image to another person. You can't say don't sext. You can teach safer sexting practices.
Teach them when you send a nude image, don't include your head in it. Use a fake e‑mail ID or don't give identifying markers of your location. Whether you teach, you can't tell if especially the youngsters not to sext, because it's becoming an increasingly largely used platform for sexual exploration and expression.
So all you can do is to actually teach them ‑‑ teach people how to be safe when doing this. There are a whole bunch of sources available for this. They have brought out this pamphlet which is called sin safer news. It suggests apps to you to blur out your face. It suggests which camera apps you can use. It shows you how to change your meta data on the camera apps. The person who wants to abuse your images will find it much, much harder to do so. That's the way to go really. Thank you.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Let me follow‑up on that because I want to answer your question as well. There's a media scholar in Canada called Amy O'Dell Hassen who is a number of who published a book called Sexting Panic. She talked about the general panic in society about sexting, and what she says is, sexting is the digital equivalent of the love letter. You know? Coochie‑cooing, et cetera, et cetera.
That happened in analog times, and it's just now we have a new digital form to give it. She says let's think of sexts as media products. Each sext, right, whether it's text or whether it's image or graphic or whatever is actually a small media product, right? She says let's think about it like that and look at it. So I think the first thing is that ‑‑ I want to make a comparison with HIV/AIDS here.
In the early days of the epidemic, people were really scared and one group of people said the only way to actually save yourself from HIV is to abstain. Don't have sex, which we now think is absolutely absurd, because who is going to listen to that?
We then found more sophisticated responses where we said, no, safe sex is the way to go, right? I would argue even in the case of sexting, the ‑‑ to take away that panic of like, oh, my God, kids are sexting, but to actually put in its place things that you can do to safely send intimate images to one another.
I also want to say one more very complicated thing related to that is child pornography laws in many countries do not distinguish between consensual and nonconsensual. Pornography, which means that young adults, adolescents, teenagers under the age of 18 who are consensually exchanging nude or intimate images of each other sometimes can be considered child pornographers. There's a very interesting case in the United States where the judge found this young couple that was brought to the judge, and he said what do you want me to do? Are these two kids the perpetrators, the victims, or the ‑‑ like what? What is their legal status?
So, again, the need for distinguishing between consensual and nonconsensual in sexting, and I would say one dimension of that from a women's rights angle is we assume there's an equality of power between the genders or within genders when sexts are exchanged, right? We know from time in memorial there's been a lack of power between the genders and displays out in bedroom politics as well? Think of enumerable instances where the young man is trying to persuade the young woman to have sex and do something.
She's not sure. She doesn't want to offend him. Blah, blah, blah. These are what we need to look at. They exchange sex because they're comfortable and want to do it, et cetera. They feel pressure, and these are the things we don't talk about, right? We really need to.
Just very quickly, I want to link it to one other question that Natasha asked about media literacy, et cetera, right? Digital literacy. If we think of sexts as media products, I think we also need to think of pornography as a form of media. Ultimately, what pornography is words, images, visuals.
Part of our media literacy, if we're thinking of digital media literacy, should really again look at just like we analyze all media. This is easy for me because I make documentary films. When we don't like a film, we critique it. We don't say ban it, right? We say this is what's wrong with the representation. This is the ‑‑ like it's gender stereotyped or whatever.
You kick up a huge ruckus in society, and you try to push those representations to change. According to me, if we can get over really the sort of discomfort of naked bodies, I think we need to stop seeing naked bodies as inherently harmful, but actually start looking at porn in media and saying, you know what? This site sucks, because this site is only about like men, you know, and violent towards women. Hey, this site is good because it puts women at the center of the you know, sort of screen and it's about her pleasure.
We really need to critique it instead of shying away from it or leave or ban it approach.
We have five minutes. Anybody else? Would anybody like to have a last say. Then your question.
>> JYOTSNA MASKAY: I would like to talk about in Nepal. we have many examples of girls being texted online by random men, and they are texting nude photos and texting dirty messages even when the girl doesn't like it. So is this kind of harassment is very common in Nepal. Even when we go to the police and report these cases, we have more ‑‑ a particular law to act upon it. These cases are just dismissed like that. So we need more action and more strong doors to do ‑‑ to take action against these kinds of harassment online. Thank you.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Before we have one last comment in the room. Before that we have four minutes left. Just wanted to answer your question about advocacy around it, right? From the Indian experience we know that rape is ‑‑ falls under the Indian Penal Code section 376, one of the lowest convictions of any crime. Part of the problem is that it took years for us in the women's movement to actually convince policymakers that rape is a crime.
It took us years to convince policymakers that domestic violence is a crime, right? Even now certain forms of rape like medical rape are not crimes under the law. What I'm trying to say is I think this is, again, something far more deep‑rooted in attitudes, right? You see murder, et cetera, et cetera. All the conviction rates are pretty good, all the investigations.
But with rape we find again and again and again that the woman is put on the stand. Her sexual history is dredged up. This is now not allowed any longer in India. It becomes more about morality, about her past sexual experiences, about classifying her as a good woman or bad woman than about addressing the crime of rape itself, right?
We need to shift that conversation from morality to crime and make sure that rape is not exceptionalized. It's a crime. If somebody comes and murders someone, they don't blame the murdered person and say oh, my God, how did you let yourself be murdered? Why do we have a situation where girls and women who are raped or trans people or gay men are being asked like, why did you allow you to be raped? It's just ridiculous. Yeah.
>> AUDIENCE: I agree with you. I think that we do have to ‑‑ some countries have this more than others, but we have to accept this factual and not moral respect on rape. Did it happen? Was it nonconsensual? The moral judgment is completely irrelevant.
The second thing about sending sexting, last year there was a safer rule in the IGF 2015, and during this 2016 my group, we did a workshop on how to send safe nudes. The thing is it in the college population, they will send nudes and they will sext. That's just a fact.
We can tell them how safe to do it. We have found some success about this. The people that saw the workshop, they really liked it had and were grateful for the experience. I think this is the way we should try to follow here. Not condemning sexting, but let's create the safe sexting practice. We have condoms and things like that in real sex, let's make something similar.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: We have exactly one minute left. If you really want to say something, okay. Then I'm just to close it.
>> AUDIENCE: I just want to say I wasn't talking about ‑‑ whether I was talking about the gang rape in Rio, I was talking about something else other than anonymity. You mentioned safer nudes. Last year I was at the IGF and took the workshop and interviewed girls going through this at university campuses in Brazil. They don't send their faces. They use the apps to actually blur it, but the guys, they actually put it together with their Facebook profile.
So it's just the body, but the men say this is the girl, and this is what they're doing. People are sending safer nudes to not show tattoos and birthmarks, but it's up not enough. You have WhatsApp groups of university people who send parts of body and send the link to a profile page and linked in page so it doesn't matter if you don't show yourself.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Okay. We have to wind up the session. I feel like this could go on for a long time. Let us agree of all, that sexual expression is a valid form of expression. No less important than religious, political or other forms of f, first ree expression. Let us agree and dwell on this fact that maybe it is more productive for legislators, policymakers, governments and regulators to focus on the harms of sexual expression across ages rather than the moralities of sexual expression and the violence that harmful sexual expression can cause, right?
And really work to change that. I think if we are able to take these two steps, we will hopefully go a long way towards enabling free expression in the domain of sexuality. Before I end, I would like to thank all our panelists and ask you to give us all a loud round of applause.
>> BISHAKHA DATTA: Remember, we all agree. We have to take our message to other people.
(Session concluded at 10:32 CT)