Building EROTICS Networks in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka
APC launched the Exploratory Research on Sexuality and the Internet (EROTICS) network in 2009 to undertake a research and advocacy project in India, Brazil, Lebanon, South Africa, the United States and Indonesia that looked at internet-related challenges facing LGBT and other sexual rights communities.
The EROTICS network has achieved several milestones during less than a decade of existence:
- EROTICS brings in new actors from different movements to build alliances to strengthen sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) movements and influences internet rights groups to also take up gender and LGBT issues in their work.
- Its research brought significant gender and sexuality perspectives into debates around technology.
- It provides direct support for organisations facing online attacks, both technical and social.
- Its engagement around sex and the internet is new and timely to provide SRHR movements with the necessary awareness and capacity to engage with the internet politically, so they can influence how the internet is designed, used, and governed – both as a tool and a public space.
Check the full list of our partners here.
Feminist Principles of the Internet
In April 2014, the network organised the first Global Meeting on Gender, Sexuality and the Internet (later replicated in 2015), bringing together dozens of women’s rights, sexual rights and internet rights activists. This resulted in the drafting of the Feminist Principles of the Internet, an advocacy document that outlined 15 principles for internet rights that take into account the sexual rights of women, youth and LGBTs.
What is new? Sexual rights in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka
Building on this strong pre-existent coalition, the “Building EROTICS Networks in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka” project will strengthen the participation of an already participating country (India, partnering with active member of the network Point of View), and bring in new actors from two new countries to this advocacy arena (in Sri Lanka partnering with Women and Media Collective), and in Nepal partnering with LOOM).
With this initiative, we want to enable sexual rights activists in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka to engage politically with the internet as a public space and counter technology-related violence against women and LGBTs. The project will build capacity, networking, and inter-movement collaboration among sexual rights and internet rights organisations in the three countries, gaining from the diverse expertise provided by the global EROTICS network.
The project will benefit the main constituencies that the project partner organisations in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka work with, which are researchers, activists, bloggers and advocates working on SRHR, including sex workers, LGBTs, women with disabilities, and survivors of violence.
By the end of this project, APC and partners expect sexual rights and internet rights activists in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka to be an active part of building and sustaining resilient networks of activists and organisations who are aware of potential threats and are better able to respond.
Why is this important? Sexual rights matter for a better and safer internet!
Sexual rights activists use the internet in innovative ways to advocate for the rights of marginalised communities, disseminate information on sexual and reproductive health and rights, campaign against violence and discrimination, and support their community building and outreach.
In 2013, APC conducted a Global Monitoring Survey on Content Regulation and Sexuality and found that 98% of sexual rights activists cited the internet as crucial to their work. Despite this overwhelming majority, the survey revealed three major challenges they face: the global prevalence of online violence against women and LGBTs (online attacks, threats, blackmail, and targeted hacking of accounts, computers or mobile phones); content regulation and censorship (blocking or filtering of sexual health or rights content by governments or ISPs); and the lack of capacity or awareness on online safety among activists, considered as a major hindrance to advancing the work of LGBT and SRHR activists. In addition to these challenges, and despite the increased availability of digital capacity-building projects for LGBT organisations specifically, the political engagement link was missing – sexual rights activists are still working with the internet as a tool, not as a public space. They remain marginal to the discussions on internet rights issues such as the right to privacy, security, access, information, anonymity, and data ownership online. Similarly, internet rights and freedom of expression movements lack the understanding or awareness of sexuality-related violations of human rights online.
The EROTICS network has worked to bridge the gap between these two movements by building the capacity of sexual rights activists to engage in debates on internet governance policy, as well as building the awareness of internet rights organisations to include sexual rights in their advocacy. Increasing the number of organisations and sexual and internet rights activists from different contexts to become part of this effort is a strategic step towards building a feminist and safe internet for all.
What are we going to do in 2016 and 2017?
- Strengthen the existing EROTICS network in India, building new EROTICS networks in Nepal and Sri Lanka.
- Build the capacity of sexual rights movements, organisations, activists and researchers in India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka to engage politically with internet rights and resist online violence, end content regulation and censorship, and participate actively in internet policy debates.
- Produce analysis and research that takes an in-depth look at the information and communications landscape related to sexuality on the internet, and develop monitoring processes on the impact of internet regulation and censorship on the advancement of sexual rights.
- Enhance communication by producing analysis and research on the issue of sexuality and the internet, which will be used to support advocacy strategies in key policy processes and can engage broader stakeholders in discussion, and develop specific campaigning to advocate for the abolishment of online content regulation and censorship related to sexuality.
- Advocate to influence internet rights policy to include the rights of women and LGBTs in global and regional decision-making forums on internet governance and women’s rights-related issues, such as the UN Human Rights Council and its Universal Periodic Review process, the Internet Governance Forum, the Committee on the Status of Women, and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Violence against Women.