Disclaimer about a talk made by our former contractor at Internet Governance Forum 2018

In the wake of certain recent events, The Bachchao Project (hereinafter “TBP”) has been compelled to publish this disclaimer regarding a talk made by an erstwhile contractor of TBP at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) on 13 November 2018. A video of the talk is available on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nXB9if23Oo. The erstwhile contractor Ms Raashi Saxena has spoken for approximately 1 minutes 48 seconds from the time 33:50 to 35:38 in this video.

The talk is part of a panel discussion entitled “Impact of supplementary models of connectivity in enabling meaningful Internet access for women and gender non-binary persons”. It was delivered by Ms Saxena who represented TBP at this specific session as well as the rest of the IGF 2018. The talk was a part of IGF Best Practices Forum (Gender and Access) 2018. Her trip to the IGF was funded by TBP.

Ms Saxena was terminated from The Bachchao Project on 12 July 2019.

The contents of Ms Saxena’s talk are either half-correct or factually incorrect or misleading and portray our work as being of poor quality. In light of certain recent events, we are now publishing this public disclaimer that we do not approve of the contents of this talk. This talk is not a true reflection of the organisation’s research, advocacy and capacity-building efforts on intentional Internet shutdowns and access to the Internet in the northeast, which we have been doing since late 2017. This talk also does not reflect the tenacity, rigour and diligence that people at TBP bring to their work, and in which we take great pride.

Unfortunately, this talk has been referenced on several online pages, most of which were published after the former contractor’s affiliation with TBP had ended and in violation of the terms of her exit. Some of them have been listed below. On account of the disclaimer published above, these references are a misrepresentation of our organisation and its work:

“Through serving as a panelist at the United Nations Internet Governance Forum, Raashi has also been a strong voice for women in North East India, helping them with network accessibility issues and fighting against Internet Shutdowns faced by those living rurally.”

URL: https://www.studio-into.com/people/raashi-saxena/

Date: October 2019 (according to publicly available and searchable information on LinkedIn)

Archive URL: https://web.archive.org/web/20200724110415/https://www.studio-into.com/people/raashi-saxena

Our attempts to contact Studio Into have not elicited a response.

“In 2018, she served as a panelist at the United Nations Internet Governance Forum and presented her work on the network accessibility issues women face in North East India.”

URL1: https://igf2019.sched.com/raashisaxena

Date: November 2019

Archive URL1: https://web.archive.org/web/20200724193139/https://igf2019.sched.com/raashisaxena

URL2: https://voicefromthais.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/speakers-bios-1.pdf

Date: November 21-22, 2019

Archive URL2: https://web.archive.org/save/https://voicefromthais.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/speakers-bios-1.pdf

URL3: https://www.facebook.com/455359008576002/photos/a.483712769073959/483712742407295/?type=3

Date: 22 July 2019

Archive URL3: https://web.archive.org/web/20200724111903/https://www.facebook.com/455359008576002/photos/a.483712769073959/483712742407295/?type=3

“Raashi has been a speaker at several international forums such as UN Internet Governance Forum… for her contributions in the Internet Governance space. Her capacity building & advocacy efforts in the North East region of India have helped rural women fight against Internet Shutdowns.”

URL: https://women-in-tech.org/events/women-in-tech-monthy-forum/

Date: 30 January 2020

Archive URL: https://web.archive.org/save/https://women-in-tech.org/events/women-in-tech-monthy-forum

Leadership in public policy course 2018, New Delhi

Rohini Lakshané of The Bachchao Project attended the Leadership in Public Policy Course held on November 29-30, 2018 in New Delhi. The course was organised by the British High Commission and Takshashila.

South Asia Online Safety Summit, New Delhi, October 2018

As part of our focus on issues of technology-mediated violence against women, Rohini Lakshané attended two events organised by Facebook in New Delhi:

  • South Asia Online Summit held on 29 October 2018. The day-long event was organised by Facebook in partnership with the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India. Live-stream video of the event
  • Roundtable on Facebook’s Approach on Online Safety on 30 October 2018.



Gender based violence in East India

Societies that discriminate on the basis of gender pay a significant price in terms of higher poverty,lower quality of life, slower economic growth, and weaker governance (Elizabeth King, 2001).

India’s rugged north-east( which consists of the seven states of Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and the Himalayan state of Sikkim) and eastren parts ( Jharkhand , Orissa , West Bengal, Sikkin) of India  has seen a rise in crimes against women over the past decade. In 2014, the National Crime Records Bureau reported that six of the north-east states have witnessed an accelerated increase in crimes against women. These crimes ranged from rape and kidnapping through to dowry death and domestic cruelty.

The region is multiethnic with heterogeneous cultural background and is different from mainstream homogeneous culture. Moreover in the last few decades insurgency has been the part and parcel of the life of the people of the region. Heavy militancy in the area, lack of access to economic opportunity and education has left many women vulnerable to becoming severely affected by trafficking, violence or systemic abuse.

The fear of not being believed, being stigmatized, being blamed, dread of revisiting the ordeal during interrogations are some reasons as to why so many incidents of crimes against women go unreported in a patriarchal society. The victim is the one who is left disgraced while the guilty perpetrator is offered impunity. These crimes reflect deep rooted gender inequalities that persist in India.

Studies show the high prevalence of all forms of violence against women across all socio-economic settings in eastern zone of India. Giving property right, access to employment and educational opportunity to women thus might not change the picture. A revolutionary change in the social and cultural values and behavioural pattern is necessary to foster the process of achieving gender equality. As soon as women feel that they have the capability to operate the society at the same term as men then achieving gender equality would not remain as a distant dream.

To combat the rising violence, sustainable solutions are needed to ensure protection of women from the East. Hackathon against Gender Based Violence is one such initiative that has brought together technologists and activists to creatively think of solutions.

In India the issues of gender based violence are influenced not only by individuals but have deep cultural issues attached to them. Hence, while building solutions one needs to think through these cultural issues. This event would act as an enabler to think about solutions around the local issues of gender based violence, involving discussions and learning opportunities along with building technology.

The aim of this event would be to create an environment for building sustainable solutions to Gender Based Violence. In doing so we also make sure the following are achieved in the process:

  •  To include the best practices of humanitarian technology building in the solutions
  •  To encourage creativity and new approaches to solving a persistent problem
  •  To encourage more women to participate in the solution building
  •  To build sustainable solutions through this event