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Unformatted text preview: EROTICS: Sex, rights and the internet An exploratory research study APC would like to thank the Ford Foundation for their support of this innovative research. Editor Jac sm Kee Authors Manjima Bhattacharjya Sonia Corrêa Melissa Ditmore Kevicha Echols Maya Indira Ganesh Marina Maria Nicolene McLean Nadine Moawad Relebohile Moletsane Jeanne Prinsloo Tamara Qiblawi Jandira Queiroz Horacio Sívori Bruno Zilli Reviewers Gus Hosein Heike Jensen Pramada Menon Katharine Sarikakis Clarissa Smith Language editor and proofreading Lori Nordstrom Publication production Karen Higgs, Analía Lavin Graphic design MONOCROMO [email protected] Phone: +598 2400 1685 Cover design Ezrena Marwan Reference editing Soledad Bervejillo Álvaro Queiruga EROTICS: Sex, rights and the internet Published by APC 2011 Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Licence <creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/> Some rights reserved. ISBN 978-92-95096-11-0 APC-201107-WNSP-R-EN-PDF-0102 Table of contents About the authors ................................................................................................... 5 Emerging threads and common gaps: A synthesis ................................................ 6 Brazil Internet regulation and sexual politics in Brazil .................................................. 19 SONIA CORRÊA, MARINA MARIA and JANDIRA QUEIROZ (Sexuality Policy Watch) and BRUNO DALLACORT ZILLI and HORACIO FEDERICO SÍVORI (Latin American Center on Sexuality and Human Rights, CLAM) India Negotiating intimacy and harm: Female internet users in Mumbai .................. 66 MANJIMA BHATTACHARJYA and MAYA INDIRA GANESH Lebanon Who’s afraid of the big bad internet? ............................................................... 109 NADINE MOAWAD and TAMARA QIBLAW South Africa The internet and sexual identities: Exploring transgender and lesbian use of the internet in South Africa ..................................................................... 135 JEANNE PRINSLOO and NICOLENE C. MCLEAN (Rhodes University) and RELEBOHILE MOLETSANE (University of KwaZulu-Natal) United States Restricted access to information: Youth and sexuality ...................................... 176 KEVICHA ECHOLS and MELISSA DITMORE (Sex Work Awareness) About the authors The EROTICS network is comprised of researchers, academics, writers and activists in the fields of sexuality, sexual rights, and internet and communication rights. EROTICS editor and coordinator Jac sm Kee is the Women’s Rights Advocacy coordinator of APC, and heads the EROTICS research and the Take Back the Tech! global campaign that connects emerging communications technologies and violence against women. Email: [email protected] EROTICS Brazil The EROTICS research in Brazil is a collaborative effort by Sexuality Policy Watch (SPW), a global forum of researchers and activists, and the Latin American Center on Sexuality and Human Rights (CLAM), a sexuality research regional resource centre. Sonia Corrêa is the co-chair of SPW and associate researcher at the Brazilian Interdisciplinary AIDS Association (ABIA). Jandira Queiroz is a journalist, LGBT and feminist activist, and project assistant at the Brazilian secretariat of SPW. Marina Maria is a journalist and project assistant at the Brazilian secretariat of SPW. She is currently doing her Master’s degree in Communication, Information and Health and is a member of APC’s women’s programme (APC WNSP). Bruno Zilli is a doctoral candidate in Social Sciences and CLAM researcher. Horacio Sívori PhD is an anthropologist. He is currently regional coordinator at CLAM and post-doctoral fellow at the State University of Rio de Janeiro’s Institute of Social Medicine. Magaly Pazello advised the research team and reviewed the paper. Magaly is a doctoral candidate in Social Studies and a member of EMERGE-Research Group for Communications and Emergence at Fluminense Federal University. She is also a member of the APC WNSP and was actively involved in both phases of the World Summit on the Information Society. EROTICS India Maya Indira Ganesh and Manjima Bhattacharjya are independent researchers based in Bangalore and Mumbai. Both have a shared history of working in the Indian women’s movement as researchers and activists. Manjima holds a PhD in Sociology from Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India. Maya has an MA in Media and Cultural Studies from the University of Sussex and works at the Tactical Technology Collective. EROTICS Lebanon Nadine Moawad and Tamara Qiblawi are writers and activists based in Beirut, Lebanon. Nadine is active with gender and tech initiatives and has co-founded Nasawiya, a feminist collective. Tamara is a journalist who writes about socioeconomic issues and is working on starting up a gender resource centre at Nasawiya. EROTICS South Africa Jeanne Prinsloo is a professor emeritus affiliated to Rhodes University and an independent researcher and lecturer with expertise in the fields of media, gender, education and identity. Relebohile Moletsane is a professor and JL Dube chair in Rural Education at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She has extensive experience in teaching and research in the areas of curriculum studies and gender and education, including gender-based violence and its links to HIV/AIDS and AIDS-related stigma, body politics, as well as on girlhood studies in Southern African contexts. Nicolene McLean has recently completed her Master’s in Media Studies at Rhodes University and is currently lecturing at Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Her areas of interest include new media technology, gender, representation and identity construction. EROTICS USA Melissa Ditmore holds a doctorate in Sociology and a graduate certificate in Women’s Studies. She is a noted scholar of sex work with three books and numerous papers. Kevicha Echols is a doctoral candidate in the Human Sexuality programme at Widener University. Emerging threads and common gaps: A synthesis JAC SM KEE EROTICS editor and coordinator Introduction Indeed, the Internet has become a key means by which individuals can exercise their right to freedom of opinion and expression, as guaranteed by article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. (para. 20) The right to freedom of opinion and expression is as much a fundamental right on its own accord as it is an “enabler” of other rights, including economic, social and cultural rights, such as the right to education and the right to take part in cultural life and to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications, as well as civil and political rights, such as the rights to freedom of association and assembly. Thus, by acting as a catalyst for individuals to exercise their right to freedom of opinion and expression, the Internet also facilitates the realization of a range of other human rights. (para. 22) REPORT OF THE SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON THE PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF THE RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF OPINION AND EXPRESSION, FRANK LA RUE, 16 MAY 2011, A/HRC/17/27 What is the value of the internet in the fulfilment of rights? The rapid development and growth of internet access and services in the past two decades indicate its central role in many aspects of our lives. Much more than a tool, we have formed relationships, gained new knowledge, engaged in debate, sought income, participated in culture and more in online spaces. The internet’s potential to revitalise democratic deliberation1 and to transform hierarchical power structures lies in its unique characteristics that allow immediate transmission of communication and information across geographical boundaries at relatively low cost. Its networked nature also facilitates interaction and participation, especially with recent development of web applications and platforms that prioritise users’ content creation and engagement. The significance of this is that the internet creates a space where diverse individuals with different 1 See the EROTICS Brazil report for a comprehensive analysis on the potential of the internet to address democratic deficits, analysed through the concept of “communicative action” by Jürgen Habermas. 6 Emerging threads and common gaps: A synthesis needs and priorities are able to express their realities and perspectives without being confined by the sifting powers of institutions such as broadcasting media. “Truth” becomes a dialogic negotiation between multiple speakers, where active participation in contested and collective meaning-making is made possible. This means that different kinds of discourses are able to proliferate and norms that discriminate against or silence marginalised sections of society can be challenged and dismantled. It provides an environment where people with shared interests and concerns are able to overcome geographical and other limitations to come together and share ideas, provide mutual support, exchange information and organise for change. In this way, the internet has become an increasingly critical public sphere for the claiming of citizenship rights and civil liberties. For those who have little access to other kinds of “publics”2 due to the multiple forms of discrimination faced – including based on gender, age, economic status and sexual identity – it can be a particularly important space for the negotiation and fulfillment of their rights. However, this landscape is rapidly changing. The internet is subjected to increasing forms of regulation by both state and non-state actors, with existing unequal power structures inflecting the deliberation. From managing critical internet resources, to intergovernmental cooperation in cyber crime issues, the question of who governs the internet, under what principles, and to whose interests becomes a shared critical concern. Central to this is the debate on internet content regulation. The free flow of information and communication that acts as the cornerstone to the potentially liberatory impact of the internet has become a subject of intense scrutiny and intervention.3 Multiple interests and discourses intersect in this debate, including state sovereignty on the 2 “Publics” indicates a multiplicity of sites of engagement by civil society in their participation in democratic debates and processes to challenge and organise against discrimination and exclusion, as opposed to a singular “public sphere” such as the media. See the EROTICS South Africa report for a discussion of this concept in relation to its research on lesbian and transgender sites. 3 There is a growing body of work that documents the extent and forms of internet censorship and surveillance practices in different countries. A good overview can be found on the OpenNet Initiative’s Global Filtering Map (available online at map.opennet. net). The movement to increase internet content regulation can also be seen from the legal and policy analysis of the EROTICS country reports. EROTICS: SEX, RIGHTS AND THE INTERNET question of legal jurisdiction, national security and cyber warfare, commercial protection, public morals and civil liberties.4 Sexuality traverses the debate on content regulation in key, though invisible ways. Often, efforts to regulate the free flow of information, expression and practices online are accompanied by the mobilisation of anxieties and “dangers” around sexual content and interaction – the most familiar being the need to regulate or prohibit “pornography” and increasingly, content or activities that are “harmful to children”. Woven between and within these terms, however, are complex concepts, multiple interests and diverse realities that cannot, and should not, be conflated into unproblematic assumptions. This is especially true when laws and policy that regulate internet content have the potential (and in many cases, real) impact of limiting the fundamental rights and freedoms of a diversity of people. For example, the right to education, health, self-determination, bodily integrity, freedom of association, participation in public and cultural life, privacy, and not least, freedom of information and expression. This is compounded by legal provisions that remain broad and vaguely defined, making them vulnerable to normative prejudices. A further consideration is on the existing gender bias and assumption of heteronormativity5 in the regulation of sexual speech and conduct. The disparity in decision-making power in public institutions including politics, media and religion that privileges particular perspectives and construction of gender order, identity and relations can result in discussions that negate or deprioritise marginalised perspectives. It is precisely at this point where the internet can provide an important space for the negotiation of sexual citizenship6 that is under threat. As noted in the International Council on Human Rights Policy discussion paper, “members of society need to contribute to the meanings their society gives to sexual activity. It is through participation in making meaning, including through rights of expression, association and assembly that ‘citizens’ – including marginalised people and members of minorities – can influence and enrich law and policy.”7 4 See for example the debates at the Internet Governance Forums under the thematic area of security, privacy and openness, available at 5 “Heteronormativity” refers to the privileging of heterosexuality through institutions, structures of understanding and practical orientations. See Lauren Berlant and Michael Warner “Sex in Public” Critical Inquiry 24, 2 (1998): 548 6 “Sexual citizenship” refers to the extent to which individuals can participate in public and political life due to their conformity to or difference from sexual norms. See Alice M. Miller Sexuality and Human Rights: Discussion Paper (Versoix: International Council on Human Rights Policy, 2009) 7 Ibid. 24 7 Emerging threads and common gaps: A synthesis To ensure the continued vibrancy of the internet in enabling a broad range of rights, feminist analysis and the engagement of women’s rights, gender equality and sexual rights advocates are critically needed to inform and shape this debate. More importantly, and resonating with the participatory nature of the internet, the perspectives of users themselves on how they are using the internet in the exercise of their sexual rights and the possible implications of online content regulation measures on this ability are vital. However, both are rarely present and considered in policy and legislative processes related to internet content regulation. Reasons for this muted participation are numerous and varied, from the fragmentation of civil society advocacy in this issue area, the pace and processes in which decision making takes place, and the biases as mentioned earlier, to the technical language that requires some level of familiarity and politicisation. The EROTICS (Exploratory Research on Sexuality and the Internet) research project was initiated in 2008 as an exploratory step to meet this need and bridge the gap between policy and legislative measures that regulate content and practice on the internet, and the actual lived practices, experiences and concerns of internet users in the exercise of their sexual rights. It aims to promote evidence-based policy making by engaging in on-the-ground research with a range of internet users – especially those most affected by internet regulation measures, including young women and people of diverse sexualities – to inform and guide policy making for a more accountable process of decision making. The project was coordinated by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and conducted with local partners comprising feminist academics and activists in five countries, namely Brazil, India, Lebanon, South Africa and the United States. This paper presents an overview of the project and draws out some of the emerging issues that are threaded between the five country papers, with an aim to stimulate further research and discussion. The first section summarises the overall goal, approach and methodological issues of the research. The second and third sections look at the current landscape of sexual and internet rights, and the value of the internet in the exercise of rights by people of diverse sexualities that were surfaced in the country research. The fourth section outlines the different forms of challenges, threats and restrictions to the free flow of information and engagement online that emerged, and the key actors involved. The final section raises aspects that are missing from the debates, with recommendations for further research and ways forward. EROTICS: SEX, RIGHTS AND THE INTERNET Scope and methodology The EROTICS project took place between June 2008 and June 2011. The primary research goal was to respond to the question: s How may emerging debates and the growing practice of online content regulation either impede or facilitate the different ways women use the internet and the impact on their sexual expression, sexualities and sexual health practices, and the assertion of their sexual rights? Or expressed differently: s s How does the internet facilitate the exercise of sexual rights and the expression of sexualities, particularly of women living in different sociopolitical, economic and cultural contexts? How does emerging regulation online affect this ability? The first stage of the research encompassed a policy review and a literature review to map the current landscape of the issue. Amongst its findings, the literature review revealed a scarcity of research that directly connects sexuality and internet censorship, content policy and regulation, while the policy review noted the relative absence of active engagement by women’s rights, gender equality and sexual rights movements in related policy debates and processes.8 This gave a positive indication on the timeliness and need for the EROTICS research subject. It also helped provide a global context of the issue, and a starting point to focus the country-level investigation. The five research countries were identified from the policy review, and demonstrated conditions that the project wanted to investigate, including reasonable and/or growing rates of internet access, extent of internet filtering practices, the availability of research partners and the prevalence of public debates on sexual rights and internet regulation issues. Except for the United States,9 developing countries were chosen in line with the project’s intention to privilege lesser heard perspectives in these debates. Country partners were selected from an open call based on their experience and knowledge in either research on sexuality or on internet rights issues from 8 Mabel Bianco and Andrea Mariño EROTICS: An Exploratory Research on Sexuality & The Internet - Policy Review APC, 2009 ; Manjima Bhattacharjya and Maya Indira Ganesh EROTICS: An Exploratory Research on Sexuality & The Internet - Literature Review APC, 2009 erotics-exploratory-research-sexuality-internet-literature-review 9 The United States was also identified based on the Ford Foundation’s area of focus in this country, which related directly to the research question considering that many influential and popular online companies are based there. 8 Emerging threads and common gaps: A synthesis a feminist or gendered analysis. The EROTICS research was also conceived as an advocacy platform to initiate discussions and linkages with related rightsbased actors through the research process. As such, country partners were also selected based on their networking with local rights-based organisations or advocates. The country research team members are: s Brazil: Sonia Corrêa, Marina Maria and Jandira Queiroz (Sexuality Policy Watch) and Bruno Zilli and Horacio Sívori (Latin American Center on Sexuality and Human Rights, CLAM) s India: Manjima Bhattacharjya and Maya...
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