Following several worrying cases of women being harassed online, Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi is planning a major anti-trolling initiative. The Minister hopes to co-ordinate with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Ministry of Information Technology to come up with a mechanism for timely intervention and punishment of abusers who use online platforms to mentally harrass other individuals.
Maneka Gandhi has urged women being harassed on Twitter to post complaints using the hashtag #IamTrolledHelp. The minister is also planning to work with teams from Facebook and Twitter to help tackle the menace of online trolling more effectively.
Maneka tweeted asking all aggrieved women to send their complaints to her personal email address — email@example.com. The ministry is also expected to bring such complaints to the notice of the National Commission for Women.
The initiative was started by Maneka after several high profile cases of cyber bullying. Several threatening messages and vulgar posts were made against Bollywood singer Sona Mohapatra after she spoke out against Salman Khan’s remark on rape. Obscene posts by singer Abhijeet against woman journalist Swati Chaturvedi also made news recently and the minister has requested the police force to take appropriate action against Abhijeet.
Cyber bullying has reached alarming proportions since the anonymity of the internet makes it easy to target and harass victims. Recently a young college-goer from Salem committed suicide after morphed, nude photos of her were put up on Facebook by a man whose advances she had spurned. This is just one among several such cases, where estranged spouses or even stalkers use the online medium to avenge real and imagined slights.
From journalists like Barkha Dutt to even Cabinet ministers like Smriti Irani, nobody gets spared by online trolls. But when it comes to ordinary people, there is a tendency to blame the victim. Therefore, dealing with such issues without a solid mechanism in place becomes extremely difficult, causing the victims to feel shame and face social ostracism, and often causing depression and even suicide.
Even now it is not clear how Maneka Gandhi hopes to handle the sheer volume of complaints and whether it will go through the police force and if FIRs will have to be filed. If the system is not simplified and continues to be a time-consuming, complicated process, it will not bring about a full-fledged change.
The need of the hour is
This will ensure that cowardly abusers can no longer hide in the safety of their homes and destroy the lives of innocents.