Recent research shows that online violence against Afghan women has surged this year due to the severe restrictions on their fundamental rights.
On Monday, the Afghan Witness Organization, based in London, released the findings of their new research regarding the surge in online violence against women’s rights activists.
The findings of this organization indicate that online violence against Afghan women activists, especially those active on social media platforms, has been on the rise and has silenced women in some cases. According to the report, over the past two years following the Taliban rise, instances of nasty posts against women have tripled, effectively silencing “women political activists in Afghanistan.”
The report, which examined 78,000 posts in Persian and Pashto on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, about 100 active Afghan women, covers a specific time frame during which such incidents have tripled compared to the same period in previous years.
Research by the Afghan Witness Organization reveals that most of these posts are generated by “Taliban supporters” and are disseminated on social media platforms: “Low-ranking Taliban members and social media users sympathetic to the Taliban often lurk behind these nasty posts.”
Francesca Gentile, one of the researchers involved in this study, commented on the results, stating that “since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, social media has transformed from a space for expressing social and political views into a hub for harassing, intimidating, and suppressing women.”
She, who was present throughout the research process and the analysis of the published posts, emphasizes that “we have witnessed a wave of some of the most violent and vile messages targeting Afghan women. These messages are often sent as private messages and are simultaneously violent, threatening, and sexually explicit.”
The findings of this study indicate that women and girls in Afghanistan have not only been deprived of their fundamental rights but are also confronted with a toxic virtual space that silences them.