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Marginalised community women politicians targeted with 59% more casteist tweets

By Our Representative
A new Amnesty International study, “Troll Patrol India: Exposing Online Abuse Faced by Women Politicians in India”, has found that one in every seven, or 13.8% of tweets, that mentioned women politicians in India were 'problematic' or 'abusive'. Based on a database of over 114,716 tweets mentioning 95 women politicians from India, the study says, a similar database by Amnesty in UK and USA found that 7.1% tweets mentioning politicians were problematic or abusive.
In all, Amnesty employed 1,912 digital volunteers, known as ‘decoders’, to identify problematic and abusive content in tweets from 82 countries to create a labelled dataset of problematic or abusive content. The decoders were shown each tweet with username obscured, and asked questions about whether the tweets were problematic or abusive, and if so, whether they revealed misogynistic, casteist or racist abuse, or other types of violent threats.
Carried out between March and May 2019, when Lok Sabha polls were on, the study finds that there were 20.8% of problematic or abusive tweets against Muslim women politicians, as against 12.8% Hindu women politicians. On the whole, it says, Muslim women got 55.5% more problematic or abusive content when compared to other religions, adding, in terms of type of abuse, Muslim women received 94.1% more ethnic or religious slurs than women from other religions. Racism-based abuse was also higher for Muslim women at 12.6% vs 9.2% for Hindu women.
Then, the study says, women from marginalised castes received 59% more casteist slurs than women from general castes, commenting, “This indicates that caste identity is more often than not, a key element of problematic or abusive content for women belonging to marginalised castes.” It defines ‘caste slur’ as “discriminatory, offensive or insulting content directed at a woman based on her caste, that aims to attack, harm, belittle, humiliate or undermine her and her community.”
A breakup of political parties by the study shows that, compared to the ruling party BJP, women politicians from ‘other parties’ experienced 56.7% more problematic or abusive content than BJP. Congress politicians received 45.3% more abusive or problematic content than BJP. The ‘other’ parties analysed include the Aam Aadmi Party, AIADMK, DMK, Trinamool Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party, Left parties, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Shiromani Akali Dal, Shiv Sena, and the Samajwadi Party.
The study further finds that politicians who were not currently married (including widowed, divorced, separated and unmarried) received 40.6% more abusive tweets and 31% more problematic tweets than married women. “The most frequent type of abuse received by unmarried women was ‘sexism or misogyny', 13.9% more frequent than for married women”, the study says.
Coming to the language, the study finds that problematic or abusive content was 26.9% more frequent in Hindi than other languages in our study (with 27.7% more problematic content and 24.6% more abusive content). All languages showed the expected proportions of problematic and abusive content except for Tamil, it adds.
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