Since Sushant Singh Rajput's shocking death, the nepotism debate in the entertainment industry has been swiftly pulled to attention. And while it might have done the task of finally catalysing an important conversation, it has also brought to light the dark side of Indian netizens. In the past month, a lot of celebs have come out on social media with harrowing accounts of how they are being aggressively bullied, abused, and threatened.
Owing to the same, a lot of them including actors Sonakshi Sinha, Zaheer Iqbal, and Aayush Sharma have deactivated their social media accounts. Besides this, both Sonam Kapoor and Karan Johar have been acutely distressed by the cyberbullying that they have been subjected to. Sonam even shared what she has been through on social media and how she and Rhea have been receiving death and rape threats amid the nepotism conversation.
Clearly, the rampant rape threats and misogyny in the country have found an easy outlet in the anonymity of social media and especially under the pretext of the nepotism debate. Alia Bhatt's sister Shaheen has now come up with the experience of being incessantly bullied on social media. She even shared screenshots narrating her ordeal and how Shaheen and her family have been constantly threatened in the past month.
Sharing screenshots of abusive messages and rape threats, she wrote, “Does this surprise you? Why? This doesn’t surprise me."
Quoting the alarming rape statistics in the country, Shaheen has also talked about how rape threats and hate culture have been extremely normalised in the country. She writes “A country where rather than being raised on empathy, most people are raised with the explicit permission to hate. A country where a woman is either your mother, your sister, your wife or a wh**e. A country where not just men, but women feel like the worst thing you can call another woman is a sl*t. Because what better way to render a woman powerless than to make her ashamed of being a woman. Ashamed of being herself. Because if she weren’t a woman would she still be debased, humiliated and threatened with violence and violation every day?"
She further shares that she has actually long debated if she should have addressed this on social media and writes, "If I believe that the world should be a place in which women can feel safe and exist without being constantly threatened, sexualised or subjected sexist/misogynistic slurs with the sole intent to humiliate them - if I believe women should be treated like HUMANS. Then that’s a world I have to help create. And in order to create that world, I have to draw boundaries in my own life and pursue action no matter how annoying or time-consuming or downright sad it is.”
Shaheen has thus promised to use legal actions against everyone who dares to send derogatory and threatening messages to her and her family on social media. She has explicitly established that not even social media anonymity will help these people in the case.
“If you send me a message with the sole hope (I say hope because I promise you-nothing you say is keeping me up at night) of humiliating, insulting, or bullying me, then the following things will happen: -The message or comment will first be blocked and reported to Instagram directly–You will forfeit the right to your privacy. I will NOT protect your identity. Every shitty message you send me will-should I choose to-go up for everyone to see. Abusers are emboldened by their anonymity. I will not help hide you. – I WILL use all legal recourse available to me to take action. If you think you can’t be located because your account is anonymous, please think again-IP addresses are easily trackable. YOU are not invisible. Harassment is a crime.”
Shortly after Shaheen's posts, Pooja Bhatt also took to Twitter to slam social media trolls and urged everyone to not just mute or block these malignant haters but also to take actions against them. "Not enough to merely ignore or mute any & all aggressive, abusive behaviour one observes. Report, block abusive behaviour towards one & all. We choose who we let into our homes so why permit our social media accounts to be inundated by motivated/misguided/inherently miserable souls?" she wrote.
Not enough to merely ignore or mute any & all aggressive,abusive behaviour one observes. Report,block abusive behaviour towards one & all.We choose who we let into our homes so why permit our social media accounts to be inundated by motivated/misguided/inherently miserable souls?— Pooja Bhatt (@PoojaB1972) July 13, 2020
It was just earlier on Sunday that a troll was arrested for openly sharing rape threats to intimidate comedian Agrima Joshua on social media. And while this one has been arrested and would hopefully get duly penalised for his disturbing mindset, the incidence along with all the rape threats that are casually made on social media point at a rather grave concern. It is 2020 and there exist people who don't think twice before sending rape threats to women. This thoroughly points out how rape culture has been easily normalised in the country and we certainly have a long long road to navigate the problem.
Featured Image: Instagram