One morning, Suu Sha Shinn Thant, a transwoman, was woken up with news that her photos were uploaded to an adult site, along with an offer for sex work–without her consent. Not knowing who was behind the act and without any policy that could protect her from such cases, Suu Sha Shinn Thant has not taken any legal action. As these photos are continuously being shared to several social networking groups up until today, she is learning to live with the fact that she can be harassment anytime online because of her gender.
Her experience mirrors that of Ma Ma May Htwal, a photojournalist who was sexually harassed through her Facebook account; and Zay Lin Mon, a Punjabi student-activist who were threatened, defamed and accused of being part of the terrorist group ISIS because he proudly wears a turban.
Suu Sha Shinn Thant, Ma Ma May Htwal and Zay Lin Mon’s stories show us that any person who uses the internet can be a victim of online harassment in Myanmar. As part of the minority, they have expressed deep mistrust in these online platforms that do not acknowledge their basic human rights. Apart from the controversial Telecommunications Law, there is no effective policy that protects them and penalises harassers.
It’s Time to Talk is a 9-minute film that features Suu Sha Shinn Thant, Ma Ma May Htwal and Zay Lin Mon’s struggles as members of the minority in their own country. The film takes us on a day in their lives and how they respond to the never-ending instances of online harassment. It also sought the guidance of the International Commission of Jurists and Myanmar ICT for Development Organisation to outline effective action plans for those who have had similar experiences. It seeks to archive and feature the current internet situation in Myanmar. Finally, it calls for solidarity among civil society to demand a safer and more accessible internet to everyone in Myanmar.
It’s Time to Talk premiered last 15 December in Yangon and was screened at the Myanmar Digital Rights Forum. Under a Creative Commons license, the film is available for download for any purpose whatsoever.
Download a high resolution screening version with English subtitles.