On Monday, 13 July, Shaheen Bhatt took to social media to share screenshots of the hate messages, rape and death threats she and her sister Alia have been receiving on Instagram. In a series of Instagram stories, Shaheen called out the people sending hateful messages and warned of action against them. "I will use all legal recourse available to me to take action," she wrote.
Shaheen said after much deliberation she shared the messages. "I wondered for days whether or not this was something I should address," she wrote, adding that she wishes to create a space where women are "not threatened, sexualised or subjected to misogynistic slurs."
"I debated whether it was worth the effort it would take because ugh, why waste time and even 1% of mental processor power on this. But then I realised, if I believe that the world should be a place in which women can feel safe and exist without being constantly threatened, sexualised or subjected sexist/misogynistic slurs with the sole intent to humiliate them - if I believe women should be treated like humans. Then that's a world I have to help create. And in order to create that world I have to draw boundaries in my own life and pursue action no matter how annoying or time consuming or downright sad it is."
Speaking about the online bullies, Shaheen went on to say that she will expose them because they become emboldened by their anonymity. "Abusers are emboldened by their anonymity. I will not help hide you. I will use all legal recourse available to me to take action. If you think you can't be located because your account is anonymous, please think again - IP addresses are easily trackable. You are not invisible. Harassment is a crime."
Addressing Instagram, Shaheen said she shouldn't be the one disabling her comment section or turning off a notification just because people have a platform to unleash abuses.
"To Instagram - you have zero tolerance policies for a lot of the content that people put up on your platform - I think it's fair to say that misogynistic slurs, intended to subdue and oppress should fall under the umbrella of your zero tolerance community guidelines. But if you don't want to receive abusive message turn off your message requests. Tired of being called a b**ch in your comments? Turn off your comments. Asking me to change the way I use a platform because of someone else's hatred and misogyny is the equivalent of telling me that if I go out at night and get assaulted I was asking for it. I should not have to change the way I use a platform if someone is being abusive. They should. Full stop".
Soni Razdan, too, shared Shaheen's message and criticised Instagram and other platforms for not doing enough to prevent abuse.
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