Home Social Media How I dealt with Sexual Harassment on Twitter

How I dealt with Sexual Harassment on Twitter

– by Priya Raju

It was a sad day in Tamil Nadu. The Chief Minister, the iconic Amma Jayalalitha Jayaram had died the previous night. Schools and colleges were closed and there was virtually no traffic in Chennai.

My maids and cook called me at 6 AM to say they boarded a share auto to come to work, but they were asked to get down and go back home. Shops were closed, perhaps as a mark of respect or to prevent untoward incidents in a city where emotions were running high. There was no milk delivery. I tweeted about what I viewed as an inconvenience – no buses, household help, autos or milk

- Ad - - article resumes -

And that opened the floodgates of abuse!

Much of it was class envy and male chauvinism. “Why don’t you cook for a day, you lazy woman?”, “Sweep & wash the floors today”, “Chilra!” (Cheap) “Echa” (Lickspittle), “Half Boil” (gutter slang for “Woman” in the Tamil twitter world) and the handy “Munda!” (Widow) were hurled at me. I thought they were plumbing the depths of misogyny with the last 2 curses. But there was more to come.

There’s an infamous comedy scene of actor Vadivelu, where he talks to a prospective bride. The “joke” is about the promiscuity of that girl, who has sex with everyone – including the gardener. I got a tweet with a picture of this scene (which every Tamil speaker recognizes) asking me “Has the gardener come, girl?” Another person asked me if my hands were so tired from servicing my male-servants. He went on to ask his male contacts if any of them cared to pay me a “visit”.

I’ll give you a few seconds to digest that. I can shrug off rudeness and trolling, but this was sexual harassment, plain and simple. You can’t spin it any other way. I decided to take action.

I reported the tweets to Twitter. They locked the 1st account, but they thought the 2nd set of tweets “wasn’t a policy violation”. My jaw hit the floor when I read that response. What would constitute a flagrant policy violation then, a gang rape?

In the meantime, the abuser whose account had been locked by twitter deleted the offensive tweet and tweeted to me. “Danke” (Thank you) he tweeted in German. “Ach, Bitte! “(Oh, Please!), I told myself. He’s utterly remorseless. Something snapped in me. I had to silence the cackling hyenas. I owed it to every single woman on social media, to our #Sisterhood.

I spoke to @Prajnya, an amazing group of people committed to ending gender discrimination and sexual harassment. Prajnya roped in Dr Debarati Haider, who runs the very excellent cybervictims.org.

With them and my husband supporting me, I calculated that I had nothing to lose. I had nothing to be ashamed of. My abusers were feeding off my silence and I could not abide by that.

I plunged headfirst into social media – and I named and shamed them. The torrent of moral support I received from people was nothing short of amazing. Complete strangers were expressing solidarity with me. I felt deeply grateful for all the kindness. Every voice raised against the treatment meted out to me was a voice against online sexual harassment.

And then? Abuser #2 deleted his account. Abuser #1 issued a lame-ass apology that I had “misconstrued his innocent remarks”. If you are a Tamil speaker, you will know that the punch line of that comedy scene is about the girl having a go with the gardener. If you have seen the clip, you will also know that there is absolutely no innocent way to construe his tweet. He continued to protest his innocence and went on to lock his account.

Some of their friends started trolling me, but I didn’t care. I had something elusive – I had peace. They thought they were shaming me, but in reality, I had shamed them.

Sexual harassment is so easy online, because seriously – what are the consequences? And the culprits are emboldened because often we choose to keep silent. This silence is seen as a victory by them, who think they shamed us. And that is why it is important to speak up and to act.

(Priya Raju is an engineer and an entrepreneur who lives in Chennai)

Help Opindia Reach Every Indian. Share This Post
We need your support to survive in the media industry. Please consider paying us for the content we produce:

To know more about these payments, please click here.

Big Story

BJP leader P K Krishnadas had alleged that the campus was an SFI stronghold and that the principal was denying the ABVP members the right to carry out their organisation's work.

2019 World Cup Is Here!

Catch the latest on Cricket World Cup as it unfolds, special coverage by Opindia

Proud to be a brand - Made in India?
Now, Advertise on Opindia

Couple forced out of village; husband pressurised to accept wife’s religion

Hindu boy’s family forced out of village for marrying Muslim girl, police advices boy to convert as villagers threaten to kill

Newlywed Hindu boy and Muslim girl approach SSP for protection as villagers threaten to kill them and local police ask the boy to convert

Mangaluru villagers caught Mohammad Ansari raping a calf, police arrests villagers for ‘hurting religious beliefs’

In the Kunjathbail village in Mangaluru, Mohammad Ansari was caught red-handed by the villagers while he was raping a calf.

Here are 15 famous quotes from Harsha Bhogle during his commentary stint

The famous Indian commentator, Harsha Bhogle, born on July 19 in Hyderabad is celebrating his 58th birthday today.

Mangalore: Mohammad Ansari rapes a cow by tying its limbs, villagers catch him in the act, arrested

The villagers also made Ansari touch cow’s feet and ask for forgiveness for raping her. However, when Ansari approached the calf, the animal freaked out and started running.
Delhi Police bust Taliban controlled drug cartel that used jute bags to smuggle heroin worth 5000 crores

Delhi police bust Taliban controlled heroin racket, Afghan-Pakistani cartel worth 5000 crores discovered

Delhi police's special cell has busted a sophisticated Afghan-Pakistani heroin cartel that used heroin-soaked jute bags carrying spices and dry fruits to smuggle the drug into India.

Revisiting Sainbari, a blot on Indian Democracy: When Communists made a mother eat rice with her dead sons’ blood

The Sainbari incident remains the most horrific instance of political violence in the country.

Abusive actor Ajaz Khan arrested by Mumbai Police for instigating violence through social media

Mumbai Police arrests small-time actor Ajaz Khan after he mocked the police on TikTok
Salma Ansari's temple plan receives AMU's objection

AMU administration’s jolt to Mrs Ansari’s secularism pitch, says no to temple plan inside ‘Chacha Nehru Madarsa’

Salma Ansari, the wife of former vice president Hamid Ansari, had announced recently that she will have a temple built inside the 'Chacha Nehru Madarsa' that she runs in AMU campus.

Dhoni makes himself unavailable for West Indies Tour, will serve the paramilitary regiment

Just before a day of selection of Indian team cricket for the West Indies tour, the most experienced Indian wicket-keeper MS Dhoni has made himself unavailable for the tour and will serve his paramilitary regiment.

Serial abuser Ajaz Khan who was arrested for inciting communal tensions sent to judicial custody for 14 days

Ajaz Khan was arrested by the Mumbai Police Crime Branch for uploading provoking videos promoting enmity between different communities on his social media pages
Subscribe to Day's Top Stories
- Advertisment -

Latest articles

Connect with us

Help Opindia Reach Every Indian. Share This Post