By Sharanya Gopinathan
Neha Dixit has won the Chameli Devi Jain Awards for an Outstanding Woman Mediaperson for 2016-17. She won the award for the hard-hitting reportage she produced over the last year, including her shocking story on ‘Operation Babylift’ or ‘Operation BetiUthao’.
Back in July 2016, soon after she published “a five-part investigation on how the Sangh Parivar flouted every Indian and international law on child right to traffic 31 young tribal girls from Assam to Punjab and Gujarat to ‘Hinduise’ them” in Outlook magazine, we reported on the violent and vitriolic reactions her expose received, which ranged from insinuations about who she had in her bedroom, to FIRs being filed against her by incensed BJP workers.
In her poignant acceptance speech, she spoke about the abuse that she has faced over the years. She said, “No woman writer, journalist or artist is untouched by such attacks by online trolls.” She also talked about receiving death and rape threats, in addition to having her name and character questioned and slandered.
She went on to speak about about how the legal notices journalists were used to receiving in the past have now been replaced by violent attacks by troll armies on the internet. She reiterated how gendered the attacks by these trolls are by saying, “if it is a woman, the task of online trolls becomes even easier. All they have to do is question her intention, agency, intellect and her character. That way, they not just affect the morale of the writer who then resorts to self-censorship but also promote an abysmal quality of public discourse that relies more on mob justice than intellectual or legal arguments.”
She dedicated the award to “all the senior women journalists, who have battled for generations so that women my generation can report things beyond flower shows and baby show and to the unacknowledged journalists who have who have suffered and survived repression and still told stories that need to be told.”
You can see the full text of her speech here.