Violence and harassment against women in Azerbaijan have reached a new level when a user named [@] panturaloriginal mocked women and the way they choose to dress during a live feed via his Instagram account. While the video is no longer available on the user’s Instagram account Shafi Shafiyev, an activist from Azerbaijan shared one part of the video via his Twitter:
Here is a brief translation of what user panturaloriginal is saying in the video: “There are some women who encourage men to slap them from behind when they open their body parts. You just want to slap them. And if they turn around and ask why I would tell them ‘are you out of your mind?! You have left your body parts exposed and I am slapping them. Are you messing with me?!’ Why do you leave your parts exposed? If they are, then I will touch them. I enjoy it. You are playing with my natural instinct. Do I have to walk around like a blind man [covering his eyes with his hands] because of you? Then dress properly. Cover your body parts. Why is it so important for you to show it? If you are showing it, then I will slap you. I enjoy it. It turns me on. This is how I have been made. It is a natural sensation. Why do I have to control myself?! You have left your body parts exposed, so I am going to slap it like that.”
On July 1, 2021, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and Google made commitments to tackle the abuse of women on their platforms as more than 200 women signed a letter calling for tech companies to “prioritize the safety of women.”
Among their commitments announced at the UN Generation Equality Forum in Paris are:
Build better ways for women to curate their safety online by:
- Offering more granular settings (e.g. who can see, share, comment or reply to posts)
- Using more simple and accessible language throughout the user experience
- Providing easy navigation and access to safety tools
- Reducing the burden on women by proactively reducing the amount of abuse they see
Implement improvements to reporting systems by:
- Offering users the ability to track and manage their reports
- Enabling greater capacity to address context and/or language
- Providing more policy and product guidance when reporting abuse
- Establish additional ways for women to access help and support during the reporting process
The user has two Instagram accounts [panturallive] and [panturaloriginal] and a youtube channel [pantural]. The account from which the live feed was done, has over 68k followers. Both Instagram accounts are now private.
On May 12, Amnesty International released a statement calling to stop gender-based reprisals in Azerbaijan.
“Women human rights defenders have faced threats, coercion, violations of their right to privacy and smear campaigns that are gender-specific and target them as women. This type of gender-based violence and discrimination aims to silence their critical voices and discredit their work. It also seeks to punish them for speaking out as women,” reads the statement.
The statement documents the recent attacks and harassment women activists have faced for their work, outspokenness, or for simply being family members of government critics.
AIW reported on these attacks previously:
February 26, 2021 – Activist’s personal messages leaked after hacking [update March 9];
March 9, 2021 – Targeted harassment via telegram channels and hacked Facebook accounts [updated March 15];
March 16, 2021 – Coordinated digital attacks against Feminist movement members and LGBT rights activists;
March 25, 2021 – Exiled blogger continues to receive threats [updated March 31];
March 28, 2021 – Facebook page, advertising telegram channel, targeting a woman activist [update March 30];
April 14, 2021 – Activists trolled for exposing child abuse in Azerbaijan;
The report concludes that:
Azerbaijan has an obligation under international human rights law to take all appropriate measures to prevent gender-based violence and other human rights violations against women, including violations of their right to privacy. The Azerbaijani authorities must conduct a prompt, impartial and effective investigation into each and every reported incident of such violence, as well as of instances of reported discrimination or harassment of women, in order to identify and bring to justice in fair proceedings anyone reasonably suspected of being culpable or complicit in such acts, whether they are private individuals or members of security services or other state officials. Women who have suffered these violations should be provided with effective remedies and reparations including restitution, compensation, rehabilitation and guarantees of non-repetition. Azerbaijan must ensure that every person’s rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are respected and that women are able to fully enjoy these rights, including in the form of women’s marches.
Vafa Nagi, an activist who recently exposed systemic abuse of young girls in one region of Azerbaijan has herself become a target of harassment as a result.
Writing about the harassment on her Facebook account, Nagi explained that ever since she shared the story of a 14-year-old girl, a resident of a small village subject to sexual abuse and the involvement of one police officer in this abuse, Nagi and her family members have faced targeting from the officer and his family members.
On Facebook Nagi has been targeted with slurs by users related to the police officer.
In the meantime, according to this BBC Azerbaijan service story, the victim was relocated to a shelter in the capital Baku, where she is receiving psychological help.
In their statement issued earlier, the Ministry of the Interior said they are investigating the case but so far, have not taken any measures against the police officer involved.
Vafa Nagi is an elected member of the local municipality of the region where this abuse has taken place. Recently Nagi was targeted in March of this year after taking part in a women’s march organized to mark International Women’s Day in Baku.