In an anonymous blog by a username
Indian.fowler and titled ‘The Indian Uber – That is TVF‘, Arunabh Kumar, the CEO of online digital entertainment channel ‘The Viral Fever’ (TVF) was accused of having molested a former employee of TVF several times in her 2-year stint at the company. After this anonymous blog went viral, many other women came out in open and accused Arunabh Kumar of sexual harassment. While the culpability of a person cannot be judged solely by such public outpourings, this phenomenon of multiple victims getting the courage to come out in open regarding sexual harassment by a single individual after one of the victims was brave enough to do so has been seen multiple times.
This also brings into focus the instrument used to expose a case of alleged sexual harassment – an anonymous piece of text on the interweb. In a country where the legal system crawls and is highly patriarchal, the society specialises in victim shaming, an anonymous piece of text on the interweb has often been the chosen medium by many victims to narrate their stories, especially those victims who belong to urban India and have easy access to the Internet. On the flip side, what happened with Rohan Joshi of All Indian Bakchod (AIB) earlier today is also very scary. An anonymous Redditor with the id ‘shadenfreude557’ accused Rohan of having groped her.
Soon after, the Redditor deleted this above post and instead posted an apology stating that the aforementioned incident never happened and that @mojorojo (Rohan Joshi’s twitter handle) was a great guy. The post goes on suggest that it was a social experiment to expose the schadenfreude in the world today and how no one should trust Indian.fowler.
Media outlets did pick up both versions in this case, the initial allegation and then the withdrawal. But, how many people read both the versions? In my experience of social media, posts that make a sensational allegation often tend to become more viral than the counter-narrative which debunks the original allegation. For eg, the Facebooker below probably read only the version in which the allegation was made against Rohan Joshi and the not the counter-narrative.
While an anonymous blog made viral by social media gave courage to many women to come out regarding the alleged sexual harassment incidents in case of Arunabh Kumar, the same instrument, an anonymous piece of text on Reddit, was used to charge Rohan Joshi with an absolutely false allegation, just for the sake of a social experiment. That is the nature of this beast called social media – it is a double edge sword. And there is nothing we can do about it. Till the time people have to depend on anonymous blogs and social media to express such issues because neither the legal system nor the society gives the victims enough confidence or protection to come out in open, we will have to deal with the ugly side of this beast as well. Also, people are hesitant to go behind those who misuse the legal system, whether it is the anonymous Redditor making baseless allegations or the police who brands someone as a terrorist only to be acquitted a decade later, or the folks on social media who indulge in deliberate rumour mongering to sow seeds of communal discord and more. Again, the legal system is so slow that no one wants to take up the hassle of pursuing these cases of misuse of law.
The primary solution to such problems is a more robust legal system. However, the responsibility in India to create a more robust legal system lies with the ruling politicians. The politicians, across party lines, indulge in large scale criminality and will never work towards a robust legal system. We are therefore stuck in a hopeless and vicious cycle.