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Digital Battlegrounds

January 25th, 2023  •  Author:   Myanmar Witness  •  2 minute read
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Politically motivated abuse of Myanmar women online

Report Published: 25 Jan 2023

Against the backdrop of increasing political repression, gaps in accountability by social media platforms operating in Myanmar, and abuses highlighted by women’s rights groups, Myanmar Witness launched a mixed-methods study into politically-motivated, online abuse targeting women in and from Myanmar and the impact on their lives. The research was carried out in partnership with Sisters to Sisters, a grassroots organisation supporting women in and from Myanmar.

The research looked at: i) the scale and nature of the abuse; ii) the perpetrators of abuse; iii) the online and offline impact of the abuse on women’s lives; and, iv) social media platform accountability. The findings are based on:

  • A quantitative study of 1.6 million Telegram posts by 100 Myanmar-language Telegram channels.

  • A qualitative analysis of 220 posts, predominantly from Facebook and Telegram.

  • Five in-depth case study analyses investigating the relationship between online and offline abuse, and abuse targeting prominent Myanmar female politicians.

  • Five in-depth interviews with survivors of politically-motivated, online abuse.

The time period assessed falls between February 2021 and December 2022. Update: Myanmar Witness and the BBC made contact with social media platforms and shared the report findings and examples of abusive posts and channels with them. As of 25 January, 2023, Telegram and Meta appear to have taken down the majority of abusive posts and channels identified during this investigation.

Warning: While this report has made every effort to minimise use and exposure to graphic imagery, it does contain content relating to racist, misogynistic and homophobic abuse that some readers may find distressing.

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