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See what happens if we post this about Aurat March

Journalist argues FIA needs legal words for incel culture

SAMAA | - Posted: Mar 2, 2020 | Last Updated: 2 years ago
Posted: Mar 2, 2020 | Last Updated: 2 years ago

If women post on Twitter or Facebook that they support Aurat March, it triggers a certain group of men and boys, who attack them online. Welcome to the world of Pakistan’s incel culture.

Incel stands for involuntary celibate. It is a western term that refers to men who don’t have much luck with women, to put it politely. They blame them for their sexless lives. By corollary, it has come to also be associated with men who hate feminists or women.

“They cannot talk to women or girls and so when they see girls talking openly online, it frustrates them,” explained Annam Lodhi, a journalist, while presenting her paper at the second International Conference on Media and Conflict in Islamabad last month. “This is an organised form of crime.”

She did a case study to see how organised incel culture was as part of a larger research project. A call for volunteers for Aurat March posted in November 2019 was flooded within minutes with 10k comments. The most common comment called the women prostitutes.

It all started in April last year when Lodhi’s attention was drawn to a post on a private all-women Facebook group. It was against videos of animal abuse someone had caught. A 20-something man going by the Facebook name of Sed Qureshi had posted videos of himself abusing cats and asking people for their opinion.

Lodhi discovered that Qureshi was not alone. He was a member of a closed Facebook group called Pak Meme Academy (Dank) with over 4,500 members.

The men on the group shared unethical rape jokes, character shamed women, share political satire that targeted women, children, and animals and would plan “raids” in the group. They targeted people who identified as feminists or supported “liberal” causes or criticised the current government.

In “raids”, they abused women, shared explicit content on their public profiles and threatened them with graphic physical assault. They would steal images and doctor them into sexual memes which were shared within their ‘dank’ circles and on Facebook.

After Lodhi studied this phenomenon she grew increasingly convinced that there needs to be more discussion in Pakistan on incel culture that needs to be recognised as a cybercrime. You can read her full piece in TechJuice here.

Cat-killing Qureshi grew so confident that he shared his material publicly on FB. As soon as that happened, young women who were cat lovers put his post on pet groups and asked for help to report him. As soon as the FIA found out they blocked his account and told him to report to their office.

On the other hand, Lodhi talked about a case of a woman who was a singer who would post publicly. Incels took her images, doctored them and shared them widely. She had to change her account six times but they still found her.

“Incel doesn’t fully define the traits of these people,” she said. “I suggest in the future we might need to find a new word that can legally help the FIA.”

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