The Girls Out Loud Nepal group bombarded with the posts and comments in November 2021. It was related to the TikToK videos of Nikisha Shrestha that went viral. In the video, a person deliberately harassed Nikisha, saying derogatory words. The dancer and video content creator Nikisha is often criticized and loathed on the internet. People on the internet often shame her with homophobic and transphobic comments on her content.
The members of Girls Out Loud discussed on how such discrimination towards the LGBTIQA+ community is not acceptable. Reading all the comments made by the girls we realized most of them were confused and they are not aware of “Hate Speech”.
Again, the discussion heated when a popular celebrity couple announced their pregnancy through their Instagram post “You can stop asking now. Yes, we are pregnant”. The comments filled up mocking the statement and people started to make trolls out of it. The girls in the group shared the memes and trolls. They condemn the unacceptable behavior of people spreading hate speech.
Although the constitution of Nepal promises the Right to Freedom, the reality alters. The online hate speech has increased worldwide and the pandemic has lifted it to the extent spreading racism, misogyny and homophobia.
Manisha, a girl out loud member: “I receive abusive comments in my dance video”
Manisha is a nineteen-year-old dancer from Banke and a second runner up in dance reality show telecast in 2020. She is quite an avid social media user and regularly posts her videos online. “I receive lot of love and appreciation in my social media handles but at the same time there are abusive messages in the post shared in the dance reality’s YouTube channel.”
Observing the posts, comments and reactions in Girls Out Loud group on Nikisha’s and celebrity couple’s posts, we realized the members of the girls out loud need to be sensitized on Hate Speech. Under Girls Get Equal #FreeToBeOnline campaign, we collaborate with Youth Hub, a youth-led platform for gender justice in Plan International Nepal. Yuwalaya is a member organization in Youth Hub came up with brilliant idea on organizing series of consultation with young people on hate speech and linking it with social media campaign against hate speech.
We organized three consultations where 83 young people participated. The main objectives of the consultations were to aware young people on what hate speech is, how it can instigate different problems and how to minimize the degree of hate speech and counter it in a peaceful manner.
Most of the participants shared that they have seen, heard, read and witnessed hate speech in their family, community and internet. One of the participants expressed, “when I was a teenager, I used to think bullying someone from lower caste is our custom. Now I realize I have been part of spreading hate speech. I need to sensitize myself on this and aware my family as well.”
Eighteen years old Sabita asked, “I follow Nikisha’s video. I do not like it at all. It is overrated. Am I a part of hate speech then?”
The facilitator responded, “If you do not like anyone’s profile or content, it is better you do not comment nor you follow them. You need to be responsible on your act. If you do not react on their content, it will not produce any hate speech.”
It was discussed how social media is influencing hate speech reinforcing online violence. Twenty-three years old Radhika mentioned, “Social media platforms need to revise their policy and implement zero tolerance approach to stop hate speech. If we face such hate speech, we need to report the profile and page in social media. This will allow social media platforms to analyze the data and recognize such hate speech is not acceptable.”
Santosh Maharjan, the president of Yuwalya informed the participants “producing hate speech is punishable by law and is a threat to the peace and order of civilized society.”
We realized the girls in the group are sharing contents from unreliable sources. They do not read the content twice before they post in the group. This is again creating misinformation and disinformation in the group. Shreejana, the moderator of the Girls Out Loud Nepal says, “I closely monitor the group and the posts shared by girls. Whenever I come across with irrelevant information, posts, and news I, aware girls on how they need to check the authentic source and read the information before they post in the group. Such fake news again lead to producing hate speech. And there is no room for hate speech in Girls Out Loud.”
We organized social media campaign #SayNoToHateSpeech. The participants in hate speech consultations shared with us their commitment to fight against hate speech.
19 years Nisha, “I will teach my young women group members not to deliver any hate speech against anyone.”
18 years Bipana, “Hate Speech should be stop by you and me. So, do not take hate speech and do not use hate speech.”
We also designed and created social media content on Hate Speech and its regulation in Nepal’s constitution. The aim of these posts are to create sensitization among social media users regarding laws related to hate speech.