Islamabad, 13 September 2017: Online harassment has the potential of silencing voices of women and marginalized groups online and there is urgent need for solutions that help these users of the internet connect with allies and fight back. This was the sentiment expressed by speakers at the launch of Muavin, an application that seeks to explore community based solution towards online harassment. Muavin has been launched by Islamabad based organization Media Matters for Democracy, MMfD.
“Working with women journalists and other users of the internet, we have across the question of harassment and abuse time and time again. With Muavin, we are hoping to enable these users to tap into the power of their own communities to fight back such harassment” said Asad Baig, Executive Director, MMfD, “We hope that Muavin will help women and other users explore a different way of fighting against online abuse”.
Muavin, an android application, allows users to create groups of allies from their facebook and twitter networks. Muavin creates a simple mechanism for users to alert their group of allies in case they face harassment or abuse in public spaces online. Allies alerted through Muavin can add their voices in support. Muavin also includes discussion forums that can be used as community spaces to share and discuss digital experiences, particularly in context of online abuse and harassment. Muavin essentially aims to create a community that is well aware of the issue of online harassment and is able to band together to challenge online trolls and abusers.
The beta version of the application was introduced in the launch event held in Islamabad today. Her Excellency, Ms. Ingrid Johansson, Ambassador of Sweden to Pakistan gave the keynote speech, stressing the need for solutions that enable women and marginalized groups to add their voices and enjoy the full potential of technology. A panel discussion, focused on the issue highlighted the increase in the trend of online harassment of women and the potentially silencing impact of online abuse. Speakers stressed upon the need for women to find allies within their networks and speak publicily in support of each other.
Muavin has been developed by MMfD’s technical partners Code for Pakistan, a group of developers, designers and social activists who work for civic innovation in Pakistan. The development of the application has been supported by Association for Progressive Communications, a global network of civic organisations who are actively engaged digital rights advocacy.