#MeToo: This 23-yr-old girl is using Instagram ‘to appeal to the sanity of men’
Srinagar, Oct 4: Pakistani poet, Kishwar Naheed is famous for her poem – We Sinful Women. In the same tone, a girl on Instagram proudly proclaims: I affirm that I am morally degenerate. I affirm that all women are. Yet, we may be the black sheep, but some of the white sheep aren’t as white as they might seem.
This is the manifesto of the Instagram page called textswomenreceive.
The page posts screenshots of texts received by the 23-year-old girl from Srinagar who manages the account from men.
She has archived the screenshots of 1000+ messages on her page and posted several of them on her account till now.
She prefers to remain anonymous fearing reprisal.
The phenomenon is not new. At a time when the world is fighting against sexual harassment, abuse and molestation, there are umpteen incidents of online harassment that go unreported.
While millions of women from across the globe are courageously opening up about such stories with the hashtag #MeToo on social media, an Instagram account created by a 23-year-old student is garnering many women followers with an aim to stop the harassment of women on social media.
She explains: “The thought for the page came after I was frequently harassed by an unknown guy on Facebook messenger. He would insist on meeting me. When I refused and blocked him, he started texting and abusing me from another account. That was the time when I realized that I am not the only one, there must so many girls who go through the same.”
Talking to The Kashmir Monitor, she said that she had earlier thought of reporting to the cyber police but did not have the courage to do so. The messages kept pouring in and she decided to post them on Instagram instead.“I received all kinds of messages. Hey! Hi! You’re pretty. You’re so interesting, you intrigue me, let’s meet over a cup of coffee. There were messages that are sexually explicit. When you don’t respond they start hurling abuses at you,” she recalls.
She added, “So many horrific things are being said to women online. Yes, I may not be able to change them, but I can use this platform to appeal to the sanity of moral men. There are males who think such things don’t exist and question why girls are always skeptical of men. I want to change their perception by showing them the reasons of our unexpressed fears.”
She believes the anonymous platform can help more girls to speak about the issues that they normally dread sharing with anyone. She said, “I can’t start a revolution but that doesn’t mean we will normalize what is happening with us. I think this page is a small step towards giving a voice to our sufferings.”
She has garnered a positive response from lot of women who share their personal experiences of online harassment. The account is also getting messages from men who are supportive of this initiative.“The most interesting response I’ve gotten till now was that of 21-year-old who had sent an inappropriate message to someone and he genuinely felt remorseful and apologetic,” she said. Official figures reveal that in the year 2017, 51 cases of cyber-related crimes have been witnessed in Jammu and Kashmir while as 48 such cases are under the investigation.
Dr Yasir Rather, Neuro-psychiatrist and De-Addiction Specialist at SMHS defined online harassment also known as cyber-bullying as “hurting someone else using social networking or online sites.”“This includes sending messages, posting threatening, intimidating comments, and posting humiliating pictures,” said Yasir.
The psychiatrist said that it can have very negative effects on psyche of a victim. He said, “The effects can come in the form of an emotional distress, anger frustration and depression and loss of self-esteem. They can even indulge in self-harm behavior. At times they may become so withdrawn that they don’t talk to family and get isolated.”
Yasir said that the problem of online harassment is often faced by young and of adolescent age group and its “mostly girls who are victims of it.” “They usually come with complaints of self-harm behavior and upon detail history they report about cyber bullying as precipitating factor or stressor,” he said.
Dr Muzzafar Khan, Consultant Psychologist at Help Foundation and Director of Police, Drug De-addiction Centre in Srinagar, urged the parents to create a conducive environment within the family so that their children can freely talk to them. “Instead of discouraging our kids from speaking out on such matters, we should encourage them. Sharing is very important when it comes to harassment. If you try to hush this problem, you are making the perpetrator become stronger.”