PM Modi, help us end online sexual abuse

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Respected PM Modi,

Since 2014, you have been the leader and primary role model for the people of India. Many in our nation believe that you have the intent and capability to make systemic changes that will propel India’s growth and offer exciting opportunities for her citizens along the way.

It is a shame that about half of India’s citizens—women and girls—are being left behind, under your watch. Not because they are not capable and worthy, but because they are being discriminated against. Everyday, women and girls face abuse and violence, from acid attacks and rape to attacks on their character, capabilities and intelligence. Among these, online forms of abuse which include trolling and even rape threats are particularly alarming because it is hard to identify the perpetrators and easy to amplify the abuse. Disturbingly, they sanction rape as a tried and tested method of keeping women subservient and silent, as a means to dehumanise or humiliate them.

The recipients of this abuse have been diverse. From Smriti Irani, a Minister, to Gurmehar Kaur, a college student, women from all stations of life are facing online abuse, every time they set out to speak their minds, regardless of which spectrum of politics, ideology or agenda they speak from. No one deserves to be silenced by calls of rape or violence against them, especially in a country that champions freedom of speech.

Mr PM, we appeal to you to take a public stand and send out a strong message against online sexual abuse and misogyny, by:

1. Simply saying “Rape threats are NOT ACCEPTABLE”: Leverage your considerable Twitter presence to making a public statement that ‘online threats of sexual violence’ including rape threats are despicable and unacceptable forms of abuse.

2. Unfollow Twitter followers and clearly rebuke those you follow who indulge in online abuse of women and girls. A clear message of support from you would encourage millions of young girls to raise their voices against sexual abuse and violence.

3. Take a firm line of action against our national leaders, from any spectrum of politics who abuse, insult or vilify women online, just because they do not agree with what she thinks or says. Such people should not be allowed to hold important positions in any government structure, as they clearly do not represent half our population.

You have consistently spoken for gender equality and empowerment in several public forums since you became Prime Minister; your statements show us that you value the contribution that women can make to India’s growth story. We, the people of India, need your support to create a just world where each of us can exist without the fear of violence. We believe that your sending out a message to online violators and abusers, with no ambiguity whatsoever, has the potential to trigger an important change in mindset and lead to a gender positive society.



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