May 30, 2020 - Comments Off on Digital Rights Foundation is Gravely Concerned with the Violations of Privacy & Condemns Moral Policing in Uzma Khan case
It is no secret that the internet is not a safe place for women, much like most spaces in society. Tools and technologies are repeatedly weaponised to harass, shame and silence women, recreating oppressions and patriarchal power structures that have enacted violence on women’s body and freedoms for centuries.
Earlier this week, Uzma Khan’s video of her terrified and being bullied in her own home was leaked without her consent and in clear violation of her privacy, it set off character assassinations and slut-shaming that is common in cases where women assert their bodily autonomy outside the bounds of marriage. Women’s sexuality is heavily controlled through penal laws and moral policing that seeks to negate their consent and autonomy. Women stepping outside traditional gender roles or the respectability of the family unit are shamed for their choices, and the video was an example of technology-enabled moral policing. Subsequently, as videos of the attack emerged on social media, promoting outrage from some on the blatant use of power to punish a woman for moral transgressions, but also voyeuristic viewings from those baying for entertainment. The manner in which women’s presence and bodies are objectified and consumed online often obscures the larger structural issues and power dynamics at play in cases, an exercise that even well-wishers often wilfully participate in.
Privacy has traditionally been used as a concept to confine to their homes and insulate violence within the family from accountability—the concept of “chaar devari”, the privacy of the women of the family, has been weaponised to keep women within the domestic sphere and invisibilise violence within the home. Feminist interventions on the right to privacy however centre it as a means of safety and preserving individual human dignity, as a shield to protect the vulnerable against powerful institutions and individuals. Uzma’s right to privacy within her home, over her videos and personal information is crucial, particularly in a case where the power dynamics are stacked up against her. The fact that after the filing of the FIR, Uzma’s personal details, such as her home address, were put on the internet and widely disseminated reminds us of the dangers of doxxing that played a part in the horrific murder of Qaneel Balochi. The disregard for Uzma’s privacy—opening up her persona life for public consumption—is extremely troubling and dangerous.
We call on the law enforcement bodies to demonstrate their independence and fairness by following through on the registered FIR and taking steps to ensure that the inquiry and subsequent case is fair and transparent. Furthermore, we believe that protection should be provided to Uzma and her family with due regard to their privacy. At the same time, we also recognise the limitations of the law and the justice system in providing restorative justice for the loss suffered. Additionally, the law is often instrumentalized to serve the interests of capitalist-patriarchal order, reproducing the status quo through coerced compromises and police malpractice.