Outrage after abusive tweets by rightwing accounts target Muslim women

(Representative image)

Men running right-wing social media accounts are being called out for making obscene remarks against prominent Muslim women on social media on the eve of Eid. The abusive campaign involved outrageous acts including ‘rating’, objectifying and making sexually abusive comments on the photos of Pakistani women, even going to the extent of ‘auctioning’. 

A YouTube channel ‘Liberal Doge Live’ live-streamed the photos of the Pakistani women with a noxious description in Hindi saying  “Today, we will stalk women with our eyes filled with lust.” 

The misogynistic live stream was first exposed in a Twitter thread by a user @madeforbrettLEE. She said the stream was discussing women’s bodies, passing sexually lewd remarks and rating them. 

The stream mainly focused on abusing and sexualising Pakistani women. They would occasionally laugh as they described the women’s bodies in a demeaning way. The channel has more than 14, 000 subscribers.

The abusive campaign has sparked anger among women and activists who are demanding social media companies and law enforcement agencies to take strict action against the men behind the campaign. 

Expressing outrage over the harassment, Congress social media coordinator Hasiba Amin said in a tweet that she was being told she was “sold to someone”. “The replies to his bidding tweet have people saying I can be used as pocha and some other shit,” said Amin.

Saket Gokhale, a well known RTI activist claimed that one of the persons involved in the abusive campaign targeting women was from Bihar. 

While expressing her anger at the men behind the vile tweets Journalist Rohini Singh urged Jharkhand state Chief Minister Hemant Soren to arrest one of the perpetrators, who she said was from Jharkhand. 

Soren replied saying that the authorities will take strict action against the person after the probe. 

As the outrage grew,  some of the accounts either took down the hateful and lewd tweets or locked their profiles. 

For instance, the channel “Liberal Doge” seems to have deleted the content but is still on the platform. The cover image lampooning  Muslims as dogs. It has a live patreon page. 

It is said that one of the men behind the channel is certain Keshu from Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh. He seems to have deactivated his Twitter account, however, Jaunpur Police said it has directed the cyber cell to collect information and proceed with legal action of the ID.

Anger was also directed at social media companies for allegedly shutting their eyes against the violent and hate content posted by right-wing accounts. The social media users accused Twitter of making money from hate. 

A few months ago the Indian government came up with a new policy for regulating social media. While the policy on online abuse and violence against women is strict on paper, analysts say it will be used to censor speech critical of the government and the ruling party. 

Weeks ago, Twitter blocked at least 52 critical tweets in India at the request of the Indian government. The tweets questioned the way the government handled the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic that continues to consume thousands every day.

Rushda Fathima Khan is an independent journalist based in Bengaluru.