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October 4, 2019 - Comments Off on 66 women’s rights, human rights, digital rights and feminists groups endorse statement on internet blackout in Kashmir

66 women’s rights, human rights, digital rights and feminists groups endorse statement on internet blackout in Kashmir

66 women's rights, human rights, digital rights and feminists groups in Pakistan have endorsed a statement condemning the internet and communications blackout in Kashmir. The statement condemns the blatant violation of the right to freedom of expression, access to information, movement and peaceful assembly by the Indian government through a blanket network and internet shutdown in Jammu and Kashmir since the evening of August 4, 2019. The nature and scope of this shutdown is particularly alarming, however it is part of larger pattern of regular shutdowns in the disputed region; in 2019 alone 51 internet shutdowns have been imposed in Jammu and Kashmir. The right to access communication networks is an important prerequisite to the exercise to other democratic and fundamental rights, the people of Jammu and Kashmir have been systematically denied these rights.

The statement also condemns the uneven application of community guidelines and content regulation by social media companies such as Twitter to silence users critiquing the official narrative of the Indian government and amplifying the voices of Kashmiris on the ground. Access to communication networks during times of conflict and political turmoil is particularly important to prevent further human rights violations and arbitrary measures. The statement has been endorsed by human rights organisations such as Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Asma Jahangir Legal Aid Cell (AGHS), Digital Rights Foundation as well as collectives such as Aurat March (Lahore and Karachi) and Women’s Action Forum (Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore and Hyderabad). International organisations such as Freedom Forum Nepal NetBlocks, Internet Sans Frontières and Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) have also endorsed the statement.

Women Journalists’ Residency Retreat

DRF, with FPU’s support, hosted a three-day residency retreat in Nathia Gali for women journalists from across Pakistan. The retreat focused on fun team building exercises, gender sensitisation and expert support in multiple areas such as mindfulness and stress management. Journalism as a field has the reputation of involving high-pressure and stressful work and can cause work-related stress, depression and anxiety but these are not treated with the same seriousness as more tangible risks. The retreat allowed the participants to share their experiences and the challenges they face in the field of journalism in de-stressed environment away from their day-to-day work lives. The sessions on stress management included relaxation activities such as yoga and trust circles. The retreat also aimed at strengthening the network as a support mechanism for the members. 

Consultation: “Due Diligence Project: Online Violence against Women"

DRF, in collaboration with the Due Diligence project, conducted a focus group discussion with women’s rights organisations within Lahore to discuss online harassment and the mechanisms associated with addressing harassment in digital spaces. The participants included members from AGHS, ASR, HRCP, WISE, UN Women and the Women’s Development Department. DRF will continue its collaboration with the Due Diligence project through assistance with undertaking the 5 country research in Asia Pacific on online violence against women.

Workshop on Online Harassment at Fatima Memorial

DRF conducted a workshop at the NUR Student Leadership Program with young students on the subject of online harassment and digital freedoms. The audience consisted of young students who engage with online spaces on a daily basis.

Participation in HRCP’s focus group discussion on social citizenship

DRF participated in Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP)’s focus group discussion on the intersection of human rights and social citizenship within a Pakistani context. DRF raised issues of online spaces as sites of political participation and exclusion.

Meeting with Member of National Assembly, Maiza Hameed

A delegation from DRF met with member of the national assembly Maiza Hameed who is part of the Committee on Information Technology. Maiza was briefed on matters of data protection and performance of the NR3C, FIA. The MNA expressed her intention to ensure that protections for privacy were strengthened in the form of a personal data protection law.

TDEA Advocacy Workshop

DRF participated in advance advocacy workshop which was organised by TDEA at Islamabad. The two day workshop was focused on the collaboration of the gender and other minorities to work along for the advocacy of recommendations of the electoral rights in Pakistan. 

The three groups that were primarily focused on was transgenders, person with disabilities and women.The participants of the workshop were transgender rights activists, person with disabilities rights activists and women rights activists who were invited from all over Pakistan.

Published by: Digital Rights Foundation in Newsletter

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