KOCHI: A few days ago, a Kerala couple was bullied online for their post-wedding photoshoot. Weeks ago, a woman in Kasaragod tracked down her cyberbully as the cops were hesitant to press charges. A similar situation took place in Thiruvananthapuram when complaints filed by woman activists regarding a YouTuber weren’t heeded to. An orthopaedic surgeon in Kollam died by suicide reportedly on account of being harassed on social media platforms.
Alongside this, Women In Cinema Collective (WCC) began their #RefuseTheAbuse campaign against cyber abuse. TNIE spoke to public persons and cyber experts on the catastrophic effects of cyber abuse and the ill-equipped system. Actor Anna Ben was the first to release a video on WCC’s ‘Refuse the abuse’.
“There is a point when you get exhausted of calling the cyberbully out; you try ignoring the same but they assume they can get away with it. Therefore, it is high time that we stuck together, spoke about it and made people understand that it is one’s right to speak up and say no to abuse. Perhaps, if we pressure well enough, it reaches a point where we can get effective laws that are easily accessible,” she said.
Anna also highlighted the repercussions of the same on mental health. “Your peace of mind should be the utmost priority. One might face backlash and criticism; some are strong enough to stand up to it, the rest won’t have the time or energy for the issue. It’s okay to speak out but no one should be forced to,” she said.
Over the week, actors such as Nimisha Sajayan, Manju Warrier, Kani Kusruti and Navya Nair have lent their support on retaliating against cyberbullies. Anchor Ranjini Haridas, who strongly vouched for calling out the bullies recalled the times she was badly harassed for speaking in English, wearing what she wanted and just being herself. “I’m not okay when the comments have a sexual flavour to them.
Over the years, I’ve received explicit messages towards myself and my family. I’ve gone to the cops and cyber cells with complaints but I realised that they could be limited by law. Cyber abuse happens faster than we can imagine. I believe every person who is abused in such a manner should name and shame the perpetrator publicly,” she affirmed.
One has to be understand the fact that there is so much going on and that it is difficult to keep track, she added. “If you’re abused, the first thing is to get a strong support system. We may not be able to change the situation in a day – the conditioning is such – but I’m a huge believer in reacting. Simultaneously, while we refuse the abuse on social media platforms, the same must be applied in real life also,” Renjini stressed.
Several months ago, actor Ahaana Krishna had released a video titled ‘A love letter to cyberbullies’ in which she sought to remove all trappings of the blame on the victim and instead shifted complete responsibility to the bully. “After the video, I noticed more conversation on this matter which is imperative. Any kind of change is triggered by more discussions, thereby leading people to identify the root of the problem, in this case, cyberbullies easily,” she said.
Ahaana added that her video was primarily intended for people to make sure that they’re at an okay place when they deal with the matter, legally or not. “I believe such comments did not deserve the kind of importance to a point where it begins to affect you. I thought it would be helpful if I could spread the same to more people,” she said.