Being a woman on the internet has never been easy — be it online abuse or getting dick pics when asking for help for a COVID-19 emergency.
Now, men from India are being called out for hosting a YouTube livestream in which they made lewd comments about pictures of Pakistani women celebrating the Eid holiday at the end of Ramadan.
Last night, as Muslims around the world broke their final fast of the month and put up photos on social media celebrating the start of the holiday, a Twitter thread drew attention to the disturbing livestream. In the video, men can be heard discussing the women’s bodies and rating them. All of this, by the way, without the women’s consent to use the photos.
“I found the stream being discussed on other Twitter accounts,” the user who posted the tweet above and who simply goes by “K” to protect her online identity, told VICE. “Their stream was specifically for abusing and sexualising Pakistani women but after seeing my tweet against it, they discussed it on their livestream too and abused me. The comments section of the stream soon turned vile with disgusting things like men sexualising women even more, and making fun of me. But the men hosting the stream continued to laugh about it all.”
It is also alleged that one of the women whose photo was commented upon was a minor, though that could not be independently confirmed.
While the livestream video has now been made private, the YouTube channel it was hosted on, “Liberal Doge”, is still up though devoid of any content. “Today, we will stalk women with our eyes filled with lust,” the description of the YouTube video read in Hindi, before it was made private.
One of the men on the livestream who went by the Twitter handle of @Keshu_10 (now deactivated) listed the location on his profile as Jaunpur, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. He deleted his account after the Jaunpur police confirmed that the matter is under investigation through the cyber crime cell.
The YouTuber’s account has now been traced by some Twitter users to the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand. Hemant Soren, the chief minister of Jharkhand, has publicly asked the police to investigate the matter too.
Indian activist Saket Gokhale claims to have identified another man in the video, asking police in the state of Bihar to take action.
In return, Gokhale was warned in a YouTube community post by the account owner that he will “tear him [Gokhale] apart” if any action is taken against him. In a separate post, one of the anonymous men left their bank details and asked their subscribers to “support” them by sending them money.
VICE has contacted YouTube for comment and will update this article if the company responds.
In Pakistan, meanwhile, the incident has led to several young women feeling unsafe on social media platforms. Some have changed their account settings to private while some have even taken down their celebratory photos.
Update (May 21, 2021): The YouTube channel has since been removed. In a response to Vice India, YouTube said they “have strict policies that prohibit hate and harassment… including content promoting violence or hatred against individuals or groups.”