Female Journalists In India Being Abused On Twitter

A recent story out of Delhi has the Twitterverse up in arms (thumbs? pointer fingers? whatever you type with).

Kavita Krishnan, a prominent Delhi-based women’s activist, was attacked viciously during a recent online chat on violence against women on Rediff.com, a leading news site in India.

Krishnan was participating in a Rediff chat when a user with the handle @RAPIST began posting abusive comments. He proceeded to ask her, Krishnan says, if “he could come rape me using a condom.”

The chat wasn’t moderated, nor was the user blocked after the exchange.

Sagarika Ghose, a well-known face of Indian TV news with more than 179,000 Twitter followers, decided to stop putting out her views on Twitter altogether when someone threateningly tweeted out the details of her young daughter’s school and class.

She told the BBC,

“The abusers are right wing nationalists, angry at women speaking their mind. They have even coined a term for us – ‘sickular’.”

Doesn’t seem like these Indian women activists are the ones that are sick.

Writer-activist Meena Kandasamy last year tweeted about a beef-eating festival at a university in the city of Hyderabad, then was threatened with “live-telecasted gang-rape and being torched alive and acid attacks,” targeted with more than 800 abusive tweets in two to three hours.

Cyber bullying is nothing new. In August 2012, researchers from the University of Wisconsin in Madison found that more than 15,000 bully-related tweets are sent every day, equaling more than 100,000 every week.

But remember back in December 2011 when India’s government asked the big social media sites to prescreen all content that users post to remove anything “disparaging, inflammatory or defamatory… before it goes online”? Obviously, that didn’t happen. And if it had, would these liberal-women victims be the ones the government would be trying to protect? Or would that be the government’s own image they’d be seeking to monitor?

(Ahem: the alleged Twitter vs. India “face off” concerning government parody accounts.)

K Jaishankar, a criminology teacher, told the BBC that India’s “patriarchal mindset has pervaded the internet space”. That is to say, traditional Indian women “should not” be expressing opinions or acting in any way extroverted online.

Is there anything for other Twitter users to do when a trend like this takes off?

(Image via Shutterstock)