By Ila Ananya
Maneka Gandhi has announced that a new app — yes, one more — to protect women who are being trolled or threatened with violence on social media will be launched by the end of the month.
It’s helpfully called ‘I am Trolled’, and basically works as a panic button (with an additional feature of ‘Shouting’, but we’re not sure what that means), that will apparently counter physical violence threats against women. This comes soon after Gurmehar Kaur had been relentlessly sent rape and death threats for saying she was not afraid of the ABVP, with #StudentsAgainstABVP.
Perhaps, it was a response to the stream of comments Gandhi received last year when she tweeted asking women in India to write to her if they had been abused or trolled with #IamTrolledHelp. The responses were all from extremely upset men with full feelings saying things like “India is an episode of ‘liberalism gone wild’” or the so witty #NoCountryForMen, and others asking her whom men should complain to. So while Gandhi made the announcement about the new app, she dramatically mentioned in passing that, “It is unfortunate to see that women are equally abusive on social media as men.”
Apart from irritation about this constant barrage of apps and tech innovation for women being focused on rape, there hasn’t of course been any sense of what action will be taken against the men accused in these cases. There is obviously the sense that only those whom the government can afford to pull up for abuse will be pulled up.
But isn’t it particularly strange that the same government that employs a social media team of trolls waiting to attack anyone even remotely critical of the government is launching the app? Swati Chaturvedi’s recent book I am a Troll, which throws light on this entire operation, show us that names like “randi”, and “whore”, and threats like “Nirbhaya style rape”, all directed towards women, appear over and over again in the script that these trolls have been given. Will this new app (if it even works and actually has a strict procedure in place, which we highly doubt), ever begin to deal with these men?