Speakers in a consultation meeting on Saturday made a call to counter hate speech and misinformation, which are now widespread both online and in physical space.
VOICE, a research and advocacy organisation with the support of UNDP Human Rights Programme, organised the consultation meeting titled ‘Countering hate speech, misinformation and strengthening access to information’ at a hotel in the capital, says a press release. Eminent journalist Saleem Samad, Freedom of Expression Monitoring officer Article 19 Bangladesh Maria Salam, prominent filmmaker Golam Rabbani Biplob, and Senior Lecturer of Brac University Saimum Reza Piash spoke at the event as panel speakers while Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, the executive director of VOICE, moderated the conference.
They said the most obvious expression of online sexist hate speech in the country is the view that ‘certain kinds’ of women invite rape upon them or deserve to be raped.
Speakers said Islamic clerics in waz mahfils (religious programme) and other religious gatherings deliver speeches, demeaning and humiliating women like they are nothing but body parts, and they (clerics) believe women who do not behave in certain ways deserve to be punished somehow.
The recorded videos uploaded in the YouTube goes viral and those encourage others to spread hate speech which is alarmingly increasing. Also, a large number of hate speeches on social media instigates people, and hatred is spread mainly on Facebook and YouTube against religious and ethnic minority communities, intending to evict people from their land, or take political benefit, they said.
If we can take appropriate measures to stop hate speech, violence against women will ultimately decrease and social harmony, peace and inclusiveness will increase, speakers mentioned.
Ahmed Swapan in his speech said the difference between freedom of expression and hate speech is getting blurred. Under these circumstances responsible use of social media platforms rather than strict regulations is necessary.Saleem Samad mentioned how the practice of freedom of expression becomes limited in families. “In families what a father says becomes the final decision and seniors often are intolerant of younger’s opinions which reflects in people’s behavior in life afterwards” he said.
Speakers also emphasised the importance of making the Right to Information Act effective.
Source: Daily Sun