Terrorising Twitter: No Place For Women

Be it Priyanka Chaturvedi, Smriti Irani or the latest victim, Shefali Vaidya.. No women is safe from sexist comments on social media.

The recent spat between Priyanka Chaturvedi, a Congress spokesperson, and our dear HRD Minister, Smriti Zubin Irani, where she chose to initially respond with political jibes when a fellow citizen was threatened with rape, exposed the brutal reality which engulfs almost every woman in India.

Ms @ShefVaidya a perceived threat to @smritiirani 's life gets Z sec,here I am struggling to get rape/death threat investigated.cut the crap— Priyanka Chaturvedi (@priyankac19) May 23, 2016

Madam I don't know the internal workings of Home Ministry, i go as per newspaper reports. I presume no security at all then @smritiirani ?

— Priyanka Chaturvedi (@priyankac19) May 23, 2016

Not worth my time , so don't worry on that front @smritiirani , you must concentrate on creating another campus ruckus.

— Priyanka Chaturvedi (@priyankac19) May 23, 2016


Repeatedly losing and yet becoming a minister in the cabinet is your forte. You have a glorious day too @smritiirani

— Priyanka Chaturvedi (@priyankac19) May 23, 2016

Be it a ‘Modi-Bhakt’, a ‘Sickular Liberal’, an ‘APPTard’ or any other ideology supporter- threatening a women on the basis of her opinion is not acceptable in any situation, as Smriti Irani rightly points out.

@mihirssharma irrespective of ideology no one should be subject to abuse or threats. And authorities should immediately be informed.

— Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) May 23, 2016

It has now a trend where individuals, especially women, who are vocal about their political leanings are threatened with severe consequences from either of the party she chooses to oppose. And I thought India was a democratic country.

To be or not to be a ‘Modi-Bhakt’ or a ‘Congi Supporter’ or a ‘Rahul Chamcha’ is my choice and my opinion should not posses a problem for any other individuals. You are welcome to debate and challenge me, prove me wrong, but a battle of words should be fought with words alone.

Neha Yadav in her article rightly says: “Only in a culture so warped by casual misogyny does a troll’s psyche become clearer. Disagree with a female activist? Threaten to rape her. Don’t like a female political candidate? Accuse her of sleeping around. Find a female journalist annoying? Organise a mass campaign to circulate her number on the internet so you can call her a whore. Now that you have dragged her sexuality out into the world and made free with it, you have destroyed her personhood, because those two are clearly one and the same thing.”

If today, we are prosecuting women on the basis of their thoughts and opinions, how can we claim to be any better than other conservative countries where women are confined solely to four walls; whose sole fate lies at the behest of men in her life- be it her father or husband. I might be sounding cliched, however, let me tell you, I echo the truth which I am witnessing today.

The whole country came together on that fateful month, December 2012, and raised a collective voice against a hushed topic, rape. The same public outrage which led to the amendments in the Juvenile Justice Law, today, had the audacity to threaten another women publicly of facing the same fate if she continues to hold and speak her mind. This to me is scary. When a women in power is not safe, what can be expected of aam ladki like me.

You might think this is a one-off incident or a much ‘hyped’ one because of the individuals involved in this case. However, allow me to dismiss this thought as well and narrate my personal story. When I was studying in the UK, a particularly disturbing incident caught my attention and I chose Facebook to raise my voice. I was against the arrest of the Mumbai college student who was arrested by the police for merely putting up a status against the extended bandh declared in the state due to sad demise of Balasaheb Thackeray.

What followed was a series of frantic missed  calls by my parents as I was stuck in class whole day. When I eventually contacted them after 9 missed calls, they immediately commanded me to take down my Facebook status as they were worried about my safety. “What if the Interpol comes after you?”

Yes, it seems funny and I did laugh at their misplaced fear, however, let’s be clear- Fear exists. And the recent trolls and extensive abuse in social media has led to mental trauma for many. Why are we so scared of an alternative narrative and more so, why do we continue to oppose women and choose to attack her sexuality again and again.

If you are a ‘Bhakt’ and adore Prime Minister Modi, then why not follow his words. Work towards his pet project, Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao. If you are Congress Supporter, then work towards Rahul Gandhi’s vision for women empowerment. Irrespective of what you believe in, respect the women and do not snub her voice by threatening rape. Your actions reflect badly on the same person you sought to defend.

As a woman, I ask my minister, Smriti Irani, and largely the whole Twitter community, just one question- Is the government here to protect only their supporters or are they available for the whole public; Is my life today dependent on my political ideology alone? I am girl who is now scared to raise her voice, not just because of my fear but for my loved ones, my parents who worry about my safety.

An edited version of the article was published by DailyO on 24th May, 2016

Parliament Analyst | Journalist by qualification | Founding Editor @decent_neta | Old Bollywood songs lover

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