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Accepted Paper:

New shrinking spaces: violence against women in the digital space  
Iffat Jahan (BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University)Pragyna Mahpara (BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University)

Paper short abstract:

The paper looks at the types of backlash faced by women public figures in the digital space where gender justice issues are being contested. This manifestation of backlash to women's rights and the contemporary women's movement shrinks women's access and presence in the digital space.

Paper long abstract:

The rapid use and accessibility of the internet in Bangladesh during the COVID pandemic is a shift to urban transformation. This shift has led to the emergence of "new spaces" like social media, to look at gender-based violence. This paper, focusing on everyday Facebook interactions by women public figures who campaign on gender justice issues, tries to understand the backlash and trends of violence against women in the digital space. The paper looks at the types of backlash and the contested issues around which backlash occurs. It also tries to unpack who the perpetrators are and the strategies used by women to counter them. The paper analyses the Facebook profiles of three female media personalities and two national events that created mass debate in social media on women's agency and rights in social media. The analysis is based on the contents posted by these Facebook profiles, the events, and the comment sections. Women are stigmatised, mocked, threatened with sexually explicit hate comments when they raise their voices on gender justice issues. The findings showed that when women seek to break stereotypes, a negative alternative image is created by the backlash actors. This creation justifies discrimination, stigmatisation, and violence against women and makes them the prime target of violence. The paper concludes that these forms of violence are a manifestation of backlash to women's rights and the contemporary women's movement and causes immense psychological trauma, often demotivating women from continuing their presence in cyberspace.

Panel P16c
Gendered Violence and Urban Transformations in the Global South III