Use of Online Space in Pakistan Targeting Women, Religious Minorities, Activists and Voices of Dissent
There is ample evidence that online hate speech in Pakistan is directed against women, religious minorities, journalists, voices of dissent and activists. The targeting of many of these groups is an expansion online of the traditional hostility and abuse they face offline. However, the internet has made such abuse easier and online hate speech is growing as internet use rises in the country. Those responsible vary somewhat: women and religious minorities are typically targeted by religio-political parties and their followers, while journalists and activists are often targeted by government/the military. In all cases, online hate speech can have a serious offline impact, including physical violence, and restrictions on people’s freedom/ability to work/post online. This review, looking at online hate speech in Pakistan in relation to particular groups, draws largely on reports by think-tanks/NGOs as well as media articles and blogs. Relatively little academic literature was found on the subject, but grey literature was quite extensive, especially on certain religious minorities (Ahmadis) and women.