There’s no end to social media toxicity, but the recent incidents of celebrities getting rape and death threats on these platforms, have raised an alarm not just on women’s safety, but also trolls in general. Over the last one month, many celebs have been at the receiving end of it and they it’s applause worthy how they tackled it.
Actor Alia Bhatt’s sister, author Shaheen Bhatt, named and shamed the people who issued them threats. “…to those of you who think it’s okay to send me or anyone messages full of hate: If you send me a message with the sole hope of humiliating, insulting, or bullying me.. I will NOT protect your identity.… I WILL use all legal recourse available..” Actor Rhea Chakraborty, girlfriend of late actor Sushant Singh Rajput, too, shared a screen shot of an Instagram direct message by a user, exposing his profile name and picture.
EXPERTS FEEL IT’S A POSITIVE EXAMPLE
Yogita Bhayana, founder of NGO PARI, shares that public figures speaking up is a good sign. “These celebs have the backing and should not take this nonsense at all. A normal girl might not feel empowered, but actors can speak up,” she says, adding that she herself has had to face such threats in the past.
Counselling psychologist Sachita Sethi concurs that celebs making such a statement highlight the whole thing even more. “Some consider that such things happen to only those belonging to this fraternity, but it also happens to common people. It’s good that celebs are coming out, they’ll at least be a role model for youngsters, who are on social media.”
Emphasising on the ‘anonymous’ identity most of these threat-givers assume, clinical psychologist Pulkit Sharma says, “There’s no one to track you, it’s ambiguous in a whole sea of comments. It’s because of the medium that gives the comfort of sitting at homes and lashing out without any consequences. Now, with people coming out and talking about it, it’s a positive development.”
CASES ON THE RISE
Cyber bullying cases have been on a constant rise, but of late, they have been more rampant.
Rekha Sharma, Chairperson, National Commission for Women (NCW) elaborates, “Ever since the lockdown started, NCW has received 289 complaints related to cyber crime and have taken suo motu cognizance of several other cases on which the Commission was tagged on Twitter. I’ve observed that women are being targeted and are subjected to sexual harassment on Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp. We need more trained officials in police to help us solve these cases.”
Bhayana adds in agreement and says this is where the problem lies. “We need stricter laws. Right now, even if you talk to experts, there are no clear guidelines. It’s a hazy picture. If you go to a normal police station, they’ll direct you to Cyber Cell. They’re not very active. Awareness has to be spread,” she urges.
Last month, Meera Chopra was left shaken after being given death threats from the fans of a popular Telugu actor. “It’s like we have no freedom of expression. When somebody takes an extreme step, who’s to be blamed then? Would these people feel good because their trolling made somebody take those steps? It makes a difference to somebody’s psyche,” she asserts.
Enough is Enough! It’s time we put an end to targeted abuse & harassment women face online every day. Join me & stand for #IndiaAgainstAbuse @TwitterIndia @Policy @instagram @YouTubeIndia – Sign the Petition! https://t.co/t6HXTZPKd5 via @ChangeOrg_India. Lets do this!!
— meera chopra (@MeerraChopra) July 18, 2020
Actor Richa Chadha, someone who hasn’t take any sort of bullying lying down, says most people who issue violent threats online rely on anonymity. “While some do it to get famous and end up in jail like Shubham Mishra (who recently gave rape threats to comedian Agrima Joshua). Whatever we do online, has consequences. Everything stays alive on the internet, and if not today then tomorrow they will have to face the brunt either in terms of loss of job or loss of reputation,” says the 33-year-old.
And recently, actor Sonam K Ahuja also took to Instagram to share the death threat her sister, Rhea received, and wrote, “Instagram doesn’t think death threats is a violation or their India team can’t read Hindi,” when they refused to take down the comment.
ACTORS SIGN #INDIAAGAINSTABUSE PETITION
- Recently, actor Kalki Koechlin had told HT in an interview why she had to ignore the “toxic stuff” on the internet for her mental health. “You cannot randomly give rape and death threats to women. It’s really important that we tell people, this (online) is our work space. If we were out in the real world and someone talked to us like that, we’d report it as a crime. On internet, they think it’s okay to let it go. That needs to change,” she said. Now she, along with actors Sayani Gupta and Maanvi Gagroo, have come forward to urge people to sign a petition #IndiaAgainstAbuse. All of them took to Instagram to share Stories about the rape and death threats that women receive online, and asked their followers to join hands in making social media safe for them again.
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