A fake quote attributed to Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi supporting Mandsaur rapist Irfan was circulated on social media by Twitter handle @GirishK1605. The tweet has now been deleted, but not before spreading fake news and calling for the rape of Chaturvedi’s daughter. “Priyanka I want to rape your daughter. Send your daughter to me – translated,” was the tweet made out by @GirishK1605.
The fake quote attributed to Chatruvedi claimed she said, “Only one rape has been committed in Mandsaur. It is the right of Muslims to rape. Our party is with Irfan (the rapist) – translated.”
“एक बलात्कार ही तो हुआ है…..
भारत में बलात्कार पहले भी होते रहे हैं….
हमारी कांग्रेस पार्टी इरफान के साथ खड़ी है.”
प्रियंका चतुर्वेदी (कांग्रेस प्रवक्ता)
Soon after, Chaturvedi herself was subjected to threats on social media in utmost vile language.
@GirishK1605 ran his Twitter handle by the name ‘Jay Sri Ram’. Calling out the irony of using God’s name to spew hate, the Congress spokesperson tweeted to Mumbai Police, who informed her that action has been initiated.
भगवान राम के नाम से ट्विटर हैंडल चलाकर, पहले तो मेरा गलत बयान लगाते हो, फिर मेरी बेटी के बारे में अभद्र टिप्पणी करते हो। कुछ शर्म हो तो चुल्लू भर पानी में डूब मरो वरना भगवान राम ही इसका सबक सिखाएंगे तुम जैसे नीच सोच वाले इंसान को।
cc @MumbaiPolice please take action. https://t.co/Ujs7wLia9v
— Priyanka Chaturvedi (@priyankac19) July 1, 2018
A disturbing trend of fake news leading to rape/death threats
Sexual abuse faced by Chaturvedi followed the recent threats received by journalist Ravish Kumar and his family over a fake quote attributed to him. According to the posts circulated on social media, Kumar called the rape of 11-year old Gita (name changed) in Ghazipur as consensual sex. Owing to the widespread circulation of the fake quote through right-wing pages and abuses that followed, Kumar had to clarify on Facebook that he did not make any such statement.
इसके लिए असहिष्णुता दिखाने का वक्त नही आ गया है क्या अब??? pic.twitter.com/CUq5946HPn
— SUNIL KUMAR (@sunil03302036) April 29, 2018
In a show aired by his channel NDTV on May 25, Kumar said that his phone rang day and night with abusive calls and messages targeting both him and his family members. The senior journalist alleged that he was threatened that he would meet the fate of The Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl who was beheaded by ISIS.
Earlier this year, journalist Rana Ayyub also found herself in the crosshairs of abusive trolls over a fake quote that claimed she was supporting rapists, stating that Muslims were in danger. The quote was from a parody account of Republic TV and was later taken down.
The last three days there has been a concerted effort in the form of multiple fake tweets, photoshopped tweets, morphed videos on twitter / fb that even the most sensible have fallen for and have gone viral. Those asking me to clarify, please use your own discretion. pic.twitter.com/alf3qkiQSq
— Rana Ayyub (@RanaAyyub) April 23, 2018
The United Nations human rights experts released a statement calling the Indian government to “urgently protect” her in the wake of death/rape threats. A morphed pornographic video of Ayyub was also doing rounds on social media and she began receiving phone calls and messages soliciting sexual favours from her.
Another fake quote is currently circulating online, claiming that journalist Rajdeep Sardesai said that the Mandsaur rape is an attempt to malign Muslims. One quick scroll through the comments tells us the number of people who believe the quote to be true and have, thus, resorted to abusing Sardesai.
Attributing fake quotes to public personalities is a common method of inciting hate and fueling biases on social media. In case of women, the abuses and threats are often sexual in nature. The virtual world is not shielded from misogyny. An outspoken woman in a highly gendered online territory is picked upon by trolls who target her through sexual abuses in an attempt to degrade her. This vile and inexcusable virtual behaviour needs to be rejected in the online world as it is in the real world. For now, the easiest method to find out the truth is to check official accounts of public personalities on social media and/or look for credible sources in the media to verify if they have made the purported comment or not.