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Misogynistic Content Online Surged by 168% During Lockdown, Finds UN Study

Image for representation.

Image for representation.

The United Nations took data from South and South East Asia and found that between March and June 2020 the volume and interest in misogynistic online content increased by 168%.

The coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown to curb the spread of the infection gave rise to many problems across the globe. Jobs were lost, economies tumbled as the world grappled with the never-seen-before health crisis. In addition to all the troubles, there has been an increase in the instances of misogynistic content online, a report by the United Nations revealed.

The United Nations took data from South and South East Asia and found that between March and June 2020 the volume and interest in misogynistic online content increased by 168%. The report said that most of the misogynistic tweets came from India.

The volume of searches for misogynistic profanity and narratives increased, along with searches for terms like “incel”, “men going their own way” and “men’s rights”, the report said.

“Data from India, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia showed that both the volume of misogynistic Facebook posts and tweets, as well as individuals’ engagement with them, including likes, comments and shares, spiked during COVID-related lockdowns in that period, with a 168% increase from the same period in 2019,” the study by Mythos Labs for UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific said.

Similarly, Google Trends data from Sri Lanka, India, Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia showed a spike of over 25% in relative search volumes for misogynistic profanity. These included words such as ‘bitch’, ‘slut’ and ‘whore’ along with local language slurs.

The study found that more than 50% of the Covid-related tweets in India were fraught with misogynistic narratives. Some of the narratives claimed that the pandemic has exposed the “hollowness of feminism”. Some tweets implied that feminists have a “sick mindset” as they equated staying at home with domestic violence.

This narrative was found in both India and the Philippines and was posted by men 97% of the time.

Earlier, the UN said that the Covid-19 pandemic is heightening the dangers of gender-based violence and human trafficking for women and girls.

"In every part of the world, we are seeing that Covid has worsened the plight of at-risk women and girls, while also hindering criminal justice responses and reducing support to victims," Ghada Waly, executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said on Monday during a virtual event on global commitment for women and girls amid the pandemic.

According to the UNODC, women and girls were already being exposed to different forms of violence before the pandemic, and they make up more than 60 per cent of all victims of human trafficking, Xinhua news agency reported.

However, lockdowns and other measures implemented in the wake of the global health crisis have led to a "shadow pandemic" of rising gender-based violence, it added.