A post on Facebook talks about women not being able to go to the beauty parlour because of the lockdown. The accompanying photograph is of a woman with a photo-shopped beard.
Another post goes: ‘If I stay at home, there is a wife. If I go outside, there is police. Issued in the male interest.’ There is more: ‘No cure has been found for the coronavirus and for a nagging wife. Beware!’
Such posts and memes, supposedly to be funny demonstrate an entrenched misogyny in Nepali society that has come out of the woodworks because of the prolonged lockdown and the anonymity of the net. Ridiculing women, body shaming and trolling has reached epidemic proportions with traditional derogatory Nepali words commonly used in posts.
“It is an indication that traditional patriarchy in Nepal has found an outlet through social media and it is an example of violence against women,” explains Saru Joshi, a gender activist.
Online violence against women, Sahina Shrestha
Crossborder cybercrime and punishment, Sabina Devkota
Trolls on various social media platforms target and provoke women so as to get an emotional response, and they often escalate into more vicious attacks. “Hurting a woman’s self-esteem, making them feel inferior, and using abusive words against women is psychological and emotional abuse.”
The posts range from jokes at the expense of women, poking fun at their body shapes, right up to obscenity and personal abuse, and are new forms of misogyny in Nepal. Outspoken women, celebrities and female journalists are often targets of mass trolling.