A DIALOGUE ON WOMEN’S ABUSE, SEXUAL ASSAULT, AND SOCIAL MEDIA RECOURSES

Published by Nida Sabiha on

Back in 2006, when Myspace was the Facebook of those times, Tarana Burke for the first time used a term on her Myspace that nobody knew would take the world by a storm. In 2017, Alyssa Milano started a hashtag with the said term on Twitter – #MeToo. Although it is a tsunami of controversies and conversations, it started a discussion and brought about a topic that people were scared to talk about over the tea.

What started on social media, also gained momentum on social media and the exchange of dialogues about all the ‘uncomfortable’ terms began taking place. There was a wave of courage that women passed to one another by speaking up and social media became their platform. After years of being shamed by society as a victim, women were no longer afraid to call out their perpetrators. With every voice that was speaking, another voice found its way up.

In India, the movement didn’t have a driving force until Tanushree Dutta spoke. Although she didn’t get her justice, it gave a voice to so many notable women including Kaneez Surka, Kubbra Sait, Priyanka Bose and Saloni Chopra. It started a series of activities where people started channelising their rage in the right direction to take the right actions. We could see the results when Sajid Khan was suspended from IFTDA, Mukesh Chabra by Fox Star Studios was suspended, Anirban Blah had to step down from KWAN Entertainment and Chintan Ruparel stepped down from TTT(Terribly Tiny Tales).
We saw a similar wave of courage being passed down recently when Nandini spoke about her story dealing with sexual coercion and harassment which helped Brooke Serpes and Pranavi Mahnori to break their silence. Along with overwhelming support that was poured, they also received misogynistic comments targeted at them. Despite all of it, they chose to stand up for themselves. 
All the three girls are teenagers who were done being silenced. More than anything they wanted their peace of mind. I hope they find iso in knowing they have helped so many young girls out there to speak up. They have been a listening ear to the voices that were always unheard or ignored. The glamourization of women’s abuse and subtle harassing has been normalised by Bollywood in movies like Kabir Singh. Most women do not even realise that the actions they’re giving a pass to are legally considered abuse.

Recently on Instagram, we’ve had Tanvee Pathan speak about her sexual mental, physical abuse and harassment. She uploaded 2 different posts: one describing the details, other screenshots of their chats and photos that were heart-wrenching. She also uploaded an IGTV of call recordings. In these, we saw a series of behaviour by Abhishek Trivedi that was spine chilling to say the very least. It’s impossible to imagine the amount of courage it took her to revisit the trauma and type it down. A man who was enjoying his privileged life after putting a woman through the worst possible trauma imaginable dared to forcefully enter her home with his parents. The outpour of rage leads to the perpetrator losing his connection with media companies he was associated with, like listentbh and others.
Angela Deka, a visual artist also talked about the sexual abuse she was put through at the hands of Vaibhav Chawla. In what could only be said as a classic gaslighting behaviour, Vaibhav pretended to be the victim. After Angela broke her silence, a considerable number of women came up with their own uncomfortable experiences they had with Vaibhav Chawla. We could say she helped them find their voice. A 5-year-old post resurfaced where he had previously been called out. Rolling Stone India had published an article about him which was immediately taken down as soon as they were notified. Home Delhi and PVR Pictures, where Vaibhav worked had late replies and reactions that weren’t acceptable but recently they notified that he is no longer associated with the organisation.

Every coin has two sides. So does this. With a platform where everyone has the right to speak there’s a huge amount of misplaced anger where people start targeting anyone and everyone mildly connected to the accused. The false allegations, that not only have the potential to destroy an innocent life but also take up the space of actual victims. 

A movement about which almost everyone has an opinion but one thing that continues to remain persistent is that social media has been a platform for women to speak and scream when they feel unheard in the real world.
Categories: Spotlight