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IRC19 - Proposed Session - #SocialMediationAsGenderedJustice

Details of a session proposed by Esther Anne Victoria Moraes and Manasa Priya Vasudevan for the Internet Researchers' Conference 2019 - #List.


Internet Researchers' Conference 2019 - #List - Call for Sessions

Session Plan

2017 saw the sudden emergence of the hashtag #metoo, both in India and across the world. This has impacted not just the general public of the internet, but also the global movement women's rights movement and feminist discourse around sexual assault, gender and consent. #MeToo allowed (female) survivors of harassment to resort to social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook as a tool to accuse powerful men of sexual harassment. In 2017, we saw this with Rose McGowan who tweeted about Harvey Weinstein or Raya Sarkar who released #LoSHA, which further erupted in late 2018 into a larger wave of ‘outing’ of Indian perpetrators in media, politics, and other areas of work.

With #LoSHA and the 2018 wave of #metoo in India, there have been a gamut of responses, even some amount of polarisation, especially among Indian civil society. During #LoSHA, we observed resistance from traditional legal and Human Rights activists and practitioners against acknowledging the unique impact of ‘survivors’ testimonies on social media’ for fear of validating a method that lies outside of ‘due process’ and ‘fair trial’. They reason that due to the ungoverned nature of social media, its platforms are without checks and balances and therefore cannot regulate arbitrary misuse. However, one can argue that social media platforms are indeed regulated by the service providers who have the ultimate power to censor complainants by simply suspending or expelling them from the platform altogether. This became evident when Twitter silenced Rose McGowan and Facebook, Raya Sarkar, promptly after their testimonies began to gather accelerated traction. Thus, the accused may always appeal to the ultimate gatekeepers, the platform providers themselves. It is precisely due to the above stated reasons, that the 2017-2018 wave of social media testimonies has garnered considerable support from a typically contemporary civil society, who recognise the disruption as powerful despite the gaps in the methodology.

Our Proposal

The tentative proposal is for our team of 2 researchers to carry out a 15-20 minute lightning talk (a conversation or debate) providing a landscape analysis of #metoo, raising specific points of discussion and interest. Following this, we will open up the discussion with the audience in the form of multiple roundtable conversations, which will seek to address the following 2 questions:

  1. If survivors of sexual harassment are resorting to social media as a ‘means’, or their choice of instrument, what does this imply about the existing fora for due process?

  2. New and emergent imaginaries/perspectives around the end of ‘justice’ that may lie outside the contours of conventional legal frameworks i.e. to what ‘end’ are these survivors disposed?

Our session aims at working towards the following outcomes:

  1. A comprehensive analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of phenomenon of social media - mediation of justice

  2. A current and expanded understanding of 'justice' that is not bound by legal recourse

Session Team

Esther Anne Victoria Moraes (Communications Manager, The YP Foundation) is a feminist activist and researcher who is passionate about expanding the discourse on the evolving forms of rights-based movements. At TYPF, Esther works on building feminist leadership through on-ground programming and on research on youth movements. Esther also works with on communication and public advocacy around issues of health, rights and youth leadership with a focus on young girls and adolescents. She coordinates online and on-ground public advocacy on sexual and reproductive health and rights and access to information through TYPF's national-level campaign, Know Your Body, Know Your Rights.

Manasa Priya Vasudevan (Programme Manager, The YP Foundation) is a feminist activist researcher who is passionate about the theory and praxis of social justice in an increasingly internet-mediated world, especially in the context of urbanization and datafication. She has undertaken research and advocacy on issues at the intersections of information communication technologies and social justice, primarily in the area of internet governance. She has actively engaged with international multi-sectoral movement building and strategy, both online and offline. At TYPF, she manages the Know your body know your rights programme. Prior to this, she worked at IT for Change in Bengaluru.



Sumandro Chattapadhyay

As a Director at CIS, I co-lead the researchers@work programme, and engage with academic and policy research on data governance and digital economy. I can be reached at sumandro[at]cis-india[dot]org.