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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

Why are misogynist campaigns going viral on social media?

  • Experts say the trend began due to Ramadan
  • Misogynist campaigns make women more vulnerable
Update : 28 Mar 2024, 02:18 PM

The video begins with a middle-aged Bangladeshi bus helper rudely refusing to allow a woman passenger to travel on his vehicle for not wearing a veil. The man repeatedly cited this as his reason for forcing her to exit the bus. Later, she tried to get into many more vehicles. At one point, she used her scarf as a veil and was allowed to board a bus, yet the helper gave her some advice about her dress.

Anyone would react sharply after watching this video—be it supporting the helper or the woman, assuming that it was an actual event.

This reporter spoke with two highly educated jobholders who expressed concern about the harassment of the woman. In their view, the woman was not even wearing “indecent” clothing. Apparently, the video was made to promote religious attire among women and to limit women's mobility. But why do educated people believe the video in the first place?

Facebook is now full of misogynist content. Analysts say people believe these things; they think women will be afraid of  moving to these places, which will reduce their visibility.

Such content is created with the intention of uniting people around the same view. And when this kind of content comes from multiple people, it implies that a group is working from behind the scenes to create a situation.

In the meantime, the fact-checker organization “FactWatch” has investigated the source of the video and found that it was scripted and that the man and the woman were acting. They have worked together on various videos before. Since the video shared on social media was premeditated and is not a real event, FactWatch has termed the claims related to the video in question “misleading.”

Another video shows a woman going to the market to buy fruit from a fruit shop. As the price of the fruit is too high, she is throwing the fruit at the shopkeeper and using abusive language at him. She hurls the fruits on the ground, crushing them. She is seen trying to beat the shopkeeper.

Experts say that since the 1990s, women have become increasingly visible on the streets as the garment industry has expanded exponentially. These working women do their own shopping and go to the kitchen markets to do other chores. So some people are presenting the women in this way to spread misogyny.

Several anti-feminist videos are circulating on Facebook. Many users are also believing them.

Arpeeta Shams Mizan, a teacher at the Law Department of Dhaka University and currently a PhD researcher at the University of Bristol Law School, said: “Misogyny is not new in Bangladeshi society. From the social media trend, we can understand that it is becoming more influential than ever in the public discourse of Bangladesh. As a result, real-world talk, meditations, and ideas are now emerging in the virtual world through Facebook reels, Instagram videos, TikTok, etc.

“Its damage is multidimensional. The first harm is that these videos misrepresent women's empowerment and give the wrong message to people. Women's empowerment means men will lose; women are not men's allies but rivals. Thus, women are positioned as enemies.”

She observed that since digital literacy is very low in our country, many people find these videos exemplary. Many people watch these videos and get new ideas. They want to implement the ideas to harass women.

As a result, the safety of women on the streets, in the office, in the market, and even in the family is decreasing gradually.

Because of this trend, many women, especially those who are survivors of sexual abuse and sexual harassment, are suffering psychological damage as a result. Many are traumatized again, Arpeeta Shams Mizan added.

Experts say the worst thing is that the nation’s legislative body and judicial system are not used to dealing with the kind of harm and crime caused by these video contents. As a result, there is a tendency to downplay these serious issues, the far-reaching consequences of which are increasing violence against women.

Asked if such misogynist contents will hamper women’s visibility and mobility, researcher and media analyst Fahmidul Haque said: "This trend has increased during Ramadan. Content creators are promoting crowd-pleasing policies to increase views.

“Hazrat Khadija (RA) was involved in business outside the home. At present, if women are kept under house arrest, the economy is damaged or will be damaged. Bangladesh's economy is kept alive by women working in the garments sector. These misogynistic policies and policing need to be resisted.”

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