The Commission, which is more commonly known in Indonesian as Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi (KPK) is a government agency established to fight corruption. The KPK was formed after special consideration of the extraordinary nature of corruption in Indonesia, which has become systemic and widespread, and has violated the human rights of the Indonesian people.
One of the videos currently featured on the Kanal KPK website is from our previous Moviemento project. 'No To Supermall' is about an initiative in Balikpapan, Kalimantan, where for years youth in this oil producing city have called for critical assessment of most of the supermall projects around the city.
Moviemento itself was a collaborative project conducted with Transparency International Indonesiai, where we trained youth communities who were already campaigning on issues such as gender, the environment, social development, and culture, to produce their own videos with anti-corruption messages and youth perspectives. The project aimed to strengthen active citizenship and advocacy capacity among Transparency International's partner organizations in Indonesia, especially the youth.
We are looking forward to further supporting KPK's website and other media initiatives against corruption in the country in the near future.
“A woman like you deserves to be raped!”
I was shocked and terrified when I received the above comment in reply to my Facebook status. And it didn't stop there. The person also sent me a private message on Facebook threatening to rape me.
No, this was not a random person I befriended on Facebook. This was someone I had actually met in a couple of training sessions in real life. I knew this person, and this person knew me. If he intended to act on his threat, he could have easily done so. Thankfully, he didn't, but that's not the point.
The point is that his comment and message are representative of the misogynistic perspective that he (I am 100% sure) applies in his daily life. The harm done was the same, however, as his comment and threat made me feel fear, anxiety, and a certain sense of trauma.
And what led to his messages? Some women's rights activists and I were organizing a “mini skirt action” as a protest to a government official who publicly blamed a victim of rape for wearing a mini skirt while taking public transport. The protest called on women to come wearing mini skirts or whatever they were comfortable with and tell the particular government official, other public figures, and society that women have the right to wear whatever we want. And posting that call to protest on my Facebook and Twitter accounts apparently made me someone who "deserved to be raped".
Name calling, threats, and misogynistic comments online are the things that we, women and sexuality rights activists, have to face on a daily basis here in Indonesia. And I'm sure it also happens in many other parts of the world. People call these the consequences of being activists, be it offline or online. But why is it when it happens offline, there are legal procedures to deal with it, and when it happens online, we're told to just sleep on it because there's nothing we can do about it?
Yes, that's what happened when that serious threat was made to me and I tried to find procedures to deal with it. I found none. Firstly, online violence is not considered as violence. And secondly, in the name of freedom of expression people have the right to say whatever they want (although that's not the case when it comes to other issues such as politics and religion, where people can be arrested for views expressed online).
It got me thinking, that women and LGBTQI persons are considered as second class citizens even in the online world, which in the beginning was thought would be a space where there with no segregation and discrimination on the basis of social and political class, race, gender identity, and sexual orientations. Women and LGBTQI are not considered as agencies who have the capacity and rights to make our own decisions in regard to our own bodies, minds and lives in any of the spaces we live in.
As the Internet evolved and came to the digital era we are in today, we realize that it's just the same as the "real" world. What people express online represents what people would express offline, only meaner because there's an aspect of anonymity in it. What people think of women and LGBTQI remains the same. The root cause is the same, which in regards to gender and sexuality issues, is a misogynistic mindset. To make it even more complicated is the possibility that online violence can lead to offline violence and vice versa.
The example I've mentioned may seem to be only about online violence against women and LGBTQI. But in reality, the misogynistic perspective on the Internet stretches way further than just that, which includes, but is not limited to, unequal access to the internet (statistics show that there are 200 million more men who have access to the internet than women) which can lead to less opportunities to access information, education and economic freedom for women, control over the bodies and sexual lives of women, and a host of other safety and security issues.
How do we then deal with those issues? In the offline world, as women's rights activists, we constantly formulate strategies for our work with the goal of dismantling patriarchy in order to end violence against women and create gender equality. So we need to extend the fight we engage in our movement and translate our offline strategies to be used online.
For this reason, the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) brought together 50 feminists from 30 countries and five continents in April 2014 to discuss these issues. The week-long meeting (which EngageMedia also participated in) was full of different perspectives, backgrounds, cultures and contexts that everyone brought in. After many agreements and disagreements, the attendees finally came up with what we call 'The Feminist Principles of the Internet', and here they are:
1. A feminist internet starts with and works towards empowering more women and queer persons – in all our diversities – to dismantle patriarchy. This includes universal, affordable, unfettered, unconditional and equal access to the internet.
2. A feminist internet is an extension, reflection and continuum of our movements and resistance in other spaces, public and private. Our agency lies in us deciding as individuals and collectives what aspects of our lives to politicize and/or publicize on the internet.
3. The internet is a transformative public and political space. It facilitates new forms of citizenship that enable individuals to claim, construct, and express our selves, genders, sexualities. This includes connecting across territories, demanding accountability and transparency, and significant opportunities for feminist movement-building.
4. Violence online and tech-related violence are part of the continuum of gender-based violence. The misogynistic attacks, threats, intimidation, and policing experienced by women and queers LGBTQI people is are real, harmful, and alarming. It is our collective responsibility as different internet stakeholders to prevent, respond to, and resist this violence.
5. There is a need to resist the religious right, along with other extremist forces, and the state, in monopolizing their claim over morality in silencing feminist voices at national and international levels. We must claim the power of the internet to amplify alternative and diverse narratives of women’s lived realities.
6. As feminist activists, we believe in challenging the patriarchal spaces that currently control the internet and putting more feminists and queers LGBTQI people at the decision-making tables. We believe in democratizing the legislation and regulation of the internet as well as diffusing ownership and power of global and local networks.
7. Feminist interrogation of the neoliberal capitalist logic that drives the internet is critical to destabilize, dismantle, and create alternative forms of economic power that are grounded on principles of the collective, solidarity, and openness.
8. As feminist activists, we are politically committed to creating and experimenting with technology utilizing open source tools and platforms. Promoting, disseminating, and sharing knowledge about the use of such tools is central to our praxis.
9. The internet’s role in enabling access to critical information – including on health, pleasure, and risks – to communities, cultural expression, and conversation is essential, and must be supported and protected.
10. Surveillance by default is the tool of patriarchy to control and restrict rights both online and offline. The right to privacy and to exercise full control over our own data is a critical principle for a safer, open internet for all. Equal attention needs to be paid to surveillance practices by individuals against each other, as well as the private sector and non-state actors, in addition to the state.
11. Everyone has the right to be forgotten on the internet. This includes being able to access all our personal data and information online, and to be able to exercise control over, including knowing who has access to them and under what conditions, and being able to delete them forever. However, this right needs to be balanced against the right to access public information, transparency and accountability.
12. It is our inalienable right to choose, express, and experiment with our diverse sexualities on the internet. Anonymity enables this.
13. We strongly object to the efforts of state and non-state actors to control, regulate and restrict the sexual lives of consenting people and how this is expressed and practiced on the internet. We recognize this as part of the larger political project of moral policing, censorship and hierarchization of citizenship and rights.
14. We recognize our role as feminists and internet rights advocates in securing a safe, healthy, and informative internet for children and young people. This includes promoting digital and social safety practices. At the same time, we acknowledge children’s rights to healthy development, which includes access to positive information about sexuality at critical times in their development. We believe in including the voices and experiences of young people in the decisions made about harmful content.
15. We recognize that the issue of pornography online is a human rights and labor issue, and has to do with agency, consent, autonomy and choice. We reject simple causal linkages made between consumption of pornographic content and violence against women. We also reject the umbrella term of pornographic content labeled to any sexuality content such as educational material, SOGIE (sexual orientation, gender identity and expression) content, and expression related to women’s sexuality.
Why do the principles matter?
One can argue that we should not be online if we don't want to also accept the consequences, such as its inequality and misogynistic nature. But we can answer that with a question: Why are human rights principles so important in the offline world and then become so unimportant in the online world?
In the Internet era, online life cannot be separated from offline life. It has almost become a basic human necessity, even more so when the offline space cannot provide, as far as information and education goes, for example.
We need the Internet, but not the Internet that we have today. We need an Internet that values our online life as much as we value our offline life, with dignity, respect towards others, and equal rights for all. Having said that, instead of not simply using the internet, we need to fight for our rights online, just as we fight for our rights in life instead of simply stopping to live, right?
The set of principles is for us to do just that. Fighting for women's and sexuality rights on the Internet to contribute to the global movement to dismantle the patriarchal system in all the spaces we live in, and to bring about the changes in perspectives that we want to see. This is why the Feminist Principles of the Internet matter.
The Feminist Principles of the Internet is of course not a bible nor is it a fixed document that will govern our online life. As any set of principles, they can evolve according to the development of circumstances. It is a guide for us to use in accordance to our own contexts. It is a joint effort in our continued struggle.
Some people say that we are good at expressing what we don't want but not at expressing what we do want. But now we can say: This is what we want. This is the feminist Internet that we want!
To read more feminist reflections on Internet policies please visit GenderIT.org
On September 1st, before the IGF officially started, the Association For Progresssive Communications (APC), organized a day-long pre-event meeting on Sex, Rights, and Internet Governance. The meeting brought together women's rights, sex rights, and internet rights activists together to discuss those intersecting issues.
The meeting introduced the Feminist Principles of the Internet, which we treated as an evolving document for the basis of our discussion. Some of the attendees were part of the group working on the principles back in April 2014 (EngageMedia was also part of that group), while others were still new to the principles.
We discussed the final draft of the 15 principles which covers issues including internet rights for women and LGBTQI, online violence against women and LGBTQI, hate speech, sexual expression, child protection, and pornography. The plenary discussion provided a space for attendees to express their questions or concerns regarding the principles, be it in the substance or wording.
After the introduction and plenary on the principles, we divided ourselves into four groups to have more focused discussions on different principles with guiding questions such as how the principles resonate for us, what more do we want to flesh out from them, and how we can use the principles in our respective countries.
I joined the group that discussed gender-based violence, where we discussed how to make the connection between online and offline violence, how to apply the principles in our own contexts, especially considering that the principles are not necessarily easy to understand in aspects of language, terminology, and substance. I personally need to think of reasons or arguments on why these principles matter to get buy-ins from activists in Indonesia because I imagine that many would think that online violence is trivial when there are so many women suffering from violence in the "real world". It was a fruitful discussion to give us starting points to work on adopting the principles.
The pre-event meeting also gave an introduction about the IGF to those who have never attended it before. The challenge was how we could integrate analysis on gender and sexuality into the spaces where most of the speakers or attendees did not necessarily have gender perspectives. So we agreed to work our best to raise the issues of gender and sexuality in as many sessions as possible, while also observing how gender dynamics played out in the different spaces at the IGF (gender composition of speakers, how many women and men spoke up at the sessions, etc.) as references for our future work.
The next day, when the IGF officially started, one of the first sessions was the Gender Dynamic Coalition led by APC. The session discussed the issue of unequal access to the internet for men and women. From the statistics presented, there are 200 million more men who have access to the internet than women. As Argentinian minister Olga Cavalli puts it, less internet access for women leads to less access to higher education and economic freedom.
The meeting also discussed strategies on how to overcome this digital divide between men and women using experiences shared by the speakers from different countries. One of the speakers, Titi Aksmani from Google, spoke about her experiences related to some projects she has undertaken to bring infrastructure closer to the people as one of solutions to the digital divide. However, Bisakha Datta from India responded by asking who then will use that infrastructure the most? Men or women? In relation to helpful information and education that can be found online, Kamel Manaf from Indonesia related her experience with the blocking of LGBT sites that were considered to have pornographic content, although that wasn't the case in reality.
The Gender Dynamic Coalition also launched the Feminist Principles of the Internet at the end of the session, making the document officially public.
Another event I attended that raised gender issues was 'Anonymity by Design: Protecting While Connecting'. The main topic there that caught my interest was on whether one should stay public about his or her identity in the name of freedom of expression which should protect everyones' rights to speak without consequences from either the government or other individuals, or stay anonymous in order to be safe and secure from violence.
The latter was expressed from the perspective of women and LGBT persons who need to find and share critical information which might include sex education, safe abortion information, and rape experience stories. A teenager from the UK said that young people are more confident to ask questions or seek information online, especially on sex education and when they are anonymous. The Youth IGF survey revealed that 65% of respondents chose to be anonymous in order to protect their personal information.
My next blogpost will be about why the Feminist Principles of the Internet matter.
This year, I had a taste of the IGF as part of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) which we (EngageMedia) is a member of. Upon receiving the invitation to attend the IGF, I had no idea of what to expect. The only thing I had in mind was the Gender Dynamic Coalition session that was going to launch the Feminist Principles of the Internet. But I also did have one big question in mind: Where was the position of the voice of civil society among the high level talks in the forum?
And what is the IGF exactly? Their website states that it is an annual event hosted by the UN for multi-stakeholders to talk about policies on the Internet, an open space for all multi-stakeholders who attend to air their views and exchanges ideas. While that's true to some extent (everyone could voice their opinions freely when they had a chance), to me, the IGF is a lavish event where all the big players talk, mostly from government sectors, professionals or academics who work with governments, and private sectors. This is while civil society and activists try to squeeze in their opinions and criticisms in whatever space becomes available in very brief time opportunities.
I say this because the event was four days long with eight competing sessions, four times a day, with only 1.5 hours or less allocated for each session. With so many resource persons and participants in each session, imagine how deeply a topic could be discussed in such a timeframe. And how much time would be left for questions and answers? In my personal experience, I had to compete with so many raised hands just to ask a question or air my statement in any given session.
Every day, I carefully chose the four sessions I wanted to attend. Those were the sessions that mattered the most for me personally and my work. I'd have to add that while some sessions were very informative, some others were plain boring. For example, in the session on Privacy, Surveillance and the Cloud One Year Later, which I thought would be interesting and provide some heated discussions because it was proposed by Google and the panelists were from Facebook, a tech executive from Africa, and a government-affiliated professor. But I was so wrong.
One session worth noting was the one on Empowering Global Youth Through Digital Citizenship, where the resource persons were around 15 teenagers from all over the world. I came to the session with one question in mind and after a tough hand-raising competition, I got the chance to ask it.
My question was about censorship or filtering of online content made in the name of protecting children and young people. The question received quite a good response from the resource persons, who sharply answered that online censorship or filtering wouldn't work for them, and it would only do more bad than good because young people will always find ways to get around them. They added that censorship or filtering denies their right to information and education because several blocked sites also have good content for young people to learn from. Youth in another session on Child Protection said, "I don't want you to censor things in my name". Listening to the voices of these young people gave me a sense of hope.
For those considering to attend the next IGF, manage your expectations wisely. I'm not saying that the forum is insignificant or that you shouldn't go, because I still think it's important for civil society and activists to show up and let governments and private sectors know that we are watching them. We should be there to voice out when our government violates our internet rights, and to participate in the policy dialogues so that they cannot make decisions without taking into account what we (or they) have said in or outside the forum. The forum also serves as a good space for us to meet an international community of like-minded people to collaborate and build networks.
Everyone who got to attend the forum were surely a lucky bunch, so we have to use such an opportunity to speak up to ensure the protection of our internet rights, which include privacy, freedom of speech, safety, and security.
My next blogpost will be about the Gender Dynamic Coalition and the Feminist Principles of the Internet, so stay tuned!
Over 25-27 August in Yangon, Myanmar, EngageMedia partnered with the Southeast Asia Technology and Transparency Initiative (SEATTI) and the Myanmar ICT for Development Organization (MIDO) to conduct an Open Government Training on technology, transparency, and accountability.
The 20 participants came from a wide range of Myanmar organisations working on issues including open-source technology, transparency, land rights, and women's rights. Everyone participated actively in the "unconference" sessions that were held according to an agenda built by attendees themselves, based on what they would like to learn and share.
Some of the topics covered in discussions and skill-sharing sessions included the principles of Open Government and Data, Digital Security, Citizen Engagement, Video Advocacy, Free and Open-Source Tools, and Data Analysis/Visualization. Everything was of course creatively and colourfully documented by an in-house graphic recorder.
One of the largest discussions that took place was around the Open Government Partnership which the Myanmar government hopes to be a member of, and the impact it would have on civic participation. A concrete outcome from the workshop is that some of the organisations present are going to hold a follow-up meeting on the OGP in October.
We were proud to be part of this groundbreaking initiative in Myanmar and hope to work together with SEATTI and MIDO to conduct more similar events in the near future.