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Thursday, June 30, 2022

Anushka Sharma and Monika Bhardwaj: Trolling is plain and simple abuse

When people start sharing memes blaming an actress for something she has no role in, or start abusing a female police officer for just doing her job, it deserves to be condemned.

Written by Shruti Dhapola |
Updated: March 29, 2016 6:11:53 pm
Virat Kohli, Virat Kohli defends Anushka, Virat Kohli slams trolls, Anushka trolled slammed, Monica Bhardwaj twitter, Twitter abuse, Twitter social media abuse, India news Anushka Sharma and police officer Monica Bhardwaj. Both were recently abused on social media, which has become a serious problem on the Internet.

Virat Kohli’s stunning innings wasn’t the only aspect of India’s victory over Australia that has hit the headlines. The cricketer took the opportunity to ‘shame’ those who have taken every cricket match India plays as an open invitation to target his presumed or former girlfriend Anushka Sharma.

Win or lose, Kohli hitting a century or getting out on a duck, disgruntled fans have often targeted Anushka, blaming her for anything and everything Kohli did on the field. After the latest win in World T20 on Sunday, Kohli decided enough was enough; it was time to ‘shame’ the attackers and he did it without mincing any words.

His Instagram and Twitter account had this message for the ‘so-called’ trolls: “Shame on those people who have been having a go at anushka for the longest time and connecting every negative thing to her. Shame on those people calling themselves educated. Shame on blaming and making fun of her when she has no control over what i do with my sport. If anything she has only motivated and given me more positivity. This was long time coming. Shame on these people that hide and take a dig. And i dont need any respect for this post. Have some compassion and respect her. Think of how your sister or girlfriend or wife would feel if someone trolled them and very conveniently rubbished them in public.”

Kohli has made a powerful point, one that will sadly be lost on many of those it seeks to address. Unfortunately, Anushka is not the only woman to face attacks on social media; recently, Delhi police officer Monika Bhardwaj was called all sorts of names on Twitter after she had posted saying that the murder of a dentist in the capital did not have a communal angle. Bhardwaj’s crime was that she tried to stop the spread of false rumours on social media regarding the case.

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When it comes to ‘trolling’ women, social media, in particular the army on Twitter, has the determination of a bloodhound. On some of the prominent Internet playgrounds of the world, misogyny and attacking women, famous or non-famous, is a favourite pass-time. Tennis-stars, actresses, women politicians, journalists, the list of victims is endless; most people on social media –and this is not limited to India– think they can get away with abusing women or anyone who disagrees with the herd.

Also read: Shame on people having a go at Anushka Sharma, says Virat Kohli

To dismiss this as trolling is to give an easy pass to this kind of abuse. This so called ‘trolling’ can be looked at differently: if someone made some of the same abusive comments that they’ve written to a woman — any woman, not just Anushka or Monika Bhardwaj– in person, it would amount to a criminal offense. Section 509 of IPC says that any “word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman,” constitutes as a crime and is liable for punishment with imprisonment.

However, with the anonymity of the Internet, it’s a free for all. If you are a celebrity, a police officer or any woman with a public profile who holds an opinion, be prepared for some ‘trolling.’

As Internet users have grown, trolling has come a long way from mocking newbies on the Internet or funny memes or even viral emails where one laughed at gullible folks who got ‘trolled’ by someone. Remember websites like ‘dontevenreply.com’ or 27B/6?

But when people start sharing memes blaming an actress for something she has no role in, or start abusing a female police officer for just doing her job, all that they are doing is to indulge in criminal abuse, and frankly it’s just not funny.

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