Smriti Irani, is it okay for women to get rape threats on Twitter if they're not a Modi bhakt?

Shruti Kedia
Shruti KediaMay 24, 2016 | 12:19

Smriti Irani, is it okay for women to get rape threats on Twitter if they're not a Modi bhakt?

The Narendra Modi government promised minimum government and maximum governance, and one step towards this vision was e-governance. With an aim to further transparency and engage in dialogue with the public, the ministers adopted the latest technology had to offer: social media.

And this medium has not only helped the government to interact and address public grievances (refer to the ministry of external affairs and railways) but has also exposed the ministers themselves.


The recent ugly spat between Priyanka Chaturvedi, a Congress spokesperson, and our dear, much talked about Union HRD Minister, Smriti Irani, exposed the brutal reality which engulfs almost every woman in India.

Instead of assuring a fellow citizen about her safety and security when threatened by trolls on Twitter, she instead chose to throw jibes at her and brought politics into the conversation.


This incident to me is a scary situation in which individuals, especially women, who do not adhere to the majority ideology, are threatened with severe consequences.

And I thought India was a democratic country. To be or not to be a "Modi-bhakt" is my choice and my opinion should not possess a problem for any other individuals. You are welcome to debate and challenge me, prove me wrong, but a battle of words should be fought with words alone.

Neha Yadav in her article rightly says: "Only in a culture so warped by casual misogyny does a troll's psyche become clearer. Disagree with a female activist? Threaten to rape her. Don't like a female political candidate? Accuse her of sleeping around. Find a female journalist annoying? Organise a mass campaign to circulate her number on the internet so you can call her a whore. Now that you have dragged her sexuality out into the world and made free with it, you have destroyed her personhood, because those two are clearly one and the same thing."


If today, we are prosecuting women on the basis of their thoughts and opinions, how can we claim to be any better than other conservative countries where women are confined solely to four walls; whose sole fate lies at the behest of men in her life - be it her father or husband. I might be sounding clichéd, however, let me tell you, I echo the truth which I am witnessing today.

The whole country came together on that fateful month, December 2012, and raised a collective voice against a hushed topic, rape. The same public outrage which led to the amendments in the Juvenile Justice Law, today, had the audacity to threaten another woman publicly of facing the same fate if she continues to hold and speak her mind. This to me is scary. When a woman in power is not safe, what can be expected by an aam ladki like me?

You might think this is a one-off incident or a much "hyped" one because of the individuals involved in this case. However, allow me to dismiss this thought as well and narrate my personal story. When I was studying in the UK, a particularly disturbing incident caught my attention and I chose Facebook to raise my voice.


I was against the arrest of the Mumbai college student who was arrested by the police for merely putting up a status against the extended bandh declared in the state due to sad demise of Balasaheb Thackeray.

What followed was a series of frantic missed calls by my parents as I was stuck in class whole day. When I eventually contacted them after nine missed calls, they immediately commanded me to take down my Facebook status as they were worried about my safety. "What if the Interpol comes after you?" they wondered.

Yes, it seems funny and I did laugh at their misplaced fear, however, let's be clear - fear exists. And the recent trolls and extensive abuse in social media has led to mental trauma for many. Why are we so scared of an alternative narrative and more so, why do we continue to oppose women and choose to attack her sexuality again and again?

If you are a "bhakt" and adore Prime Minister Modi, then why not follow his words. Work towards his pet project, Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, and most importantly, respect the women and do not snub her voice by threatening rape.

Your actions reflect badly on the same person you sought to defend and worse, this time even his own minister has some answers to give.

As a woman, I ask my minister, Smriti Irani, just one question - is the government here to protect only their supporters or is it available for the whole public; is my life today dependent on my political ideology alone?

I am girl who is now scared to raise her voice, not just because of my fear but for my loved ones, my parents who worry about my safety.

Last updated: May 25, 2016 | 15:44
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