On the day that online virtual classes for schools began in Kerala, troll pages were created for some of the women teachers. In particular, a teacher in a blue sari taking classes for Class 12 students was harassed. Within hours of the classes going online, many WhatsApp and Instagram pages were created with names such as 'Blue TeacherArmy'. Screenshots started doing the rounds that showed people using sexual innuendos and harassing the teacher. Many videos also started doing the rounds, where film songs were used to objectify the teacher.
Another teacher named Sai Swetha, who took lessons for Class 1, has also been trolled. Her adorable video telling children a story about kittens and a monkey was widely appreciated by most, however, videos making fun of her also started doing the rounds.
Reacting to the harassment, Anvar Sadath, Chief Executive Officer of Kite Victers wrote, “Saw that the videos in the First Bell programme, meant for children, were presented (beyond harmless trolls) in a derogatory manner in cyber space. This is very painful. Will go ahead with strong action against it."
Not just Anvar Sadath, several people across social media voiced their support for the women, whose photos were used in a derogatory manner. Sreejith Divakaran, a journalist, apologised for the behaviour as 'someone who has enjoyed all the privileges men get in this horrible society'.
Activist lawyer Harish Vasudevan put out a video asking for the immediate legislation of a cyber-law that is strong enough to protect people from such vicious cyber-attack.
“Does the word dignity have a meaning anymore? Women are harassed, their privacy destroyed, their family lives affected. A weaker person might even contemplate suicide, after being subjected to such kind of an attack. It will likely stop them from wanting to come to a public space ever again. (It is sad to see that) people, especially youngsters, are involved in these acts of harassing women,” Harish says.
He goes on to list the ineffective sections that could be used against cyber-attack. The Supreme Court struck down Section 66A of the Information Technology Act in 2015 which had dealt with cybercrime. “There is now 67A (punishment for publishing or transmitting material containing sexually explicit act, in electronic form) of the IT Act and other acts. But these have limits and all these comments cannot be charged with it. We need strong laws, that would make these non-bailable offences,” Harish says asking the government to make such a law.
Kerala police also made a post on its page, condemning the attack on the women teachers and warning of strict action against the abusers. "Photos and videos of women teachers taking online classes in channels and other platforms have been misused by anti social elements and shared on social media. The Cyber wing has taken note of it and strict action will be taken," the post said.
Many social media users posted their support for the teachers, calling for strict action against the harassers. "Severe punishment should be given and money should be taken from them to buy TV and laptop for at least 10 poor students," wrote Faisal Shamsudheen.
Athira Venugopal, another FB user, wrote that it proved that women's dressing had never been the problem but the ugly attitude of such people was.
Meanwhile, following the Kerala police's warning, many of the pages started disappearing and comments were deleted.
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