What should have been a private joke among friends, soon became a nightmare for a group of college students from Malappuram.

A silly WhatsApp video and its fall-out How 7 Kerala girls were harassed for a joke
news Controversy Thursday, December 20, 2018 - 19:51

It should have been a private joke among friends, a video to watch and laugh about. But it soon turned into a nightmare for a group of girls in Kerala's Malappuram district. So much so that one of them had to appeal to people to stop attacking them and ruining their lives.

“When you share and send people things without understanding the reality of the situation, you have to understand that people’s lives are getting ruined here. The abusive comments and messages that our families and us had to endure almost killed us. I request you all to please stop sharing the selfie video on your phone and delete it right now,” a girl can be heard sobbing in an audio that has now gone viral in Kerala.

For three days now, social media has been abuzz with discussions on a video posted by a few college girls from Kozhikode district. The video, which the girls say was just harmless entertainment meant for a private WhatsApp audience of 20 odd friends, was about a place called Kilinakkode in Vengara, Malappuram, which they had just visited to attend a wedding . In it, the girls could be heard jokingly calling the place as backward and unsuitable for young women to be "married off to".

According to reports, the girls, who were 7 in total, decided to take the video to talk about their experience after they were moral policed by the men in the village for taking selfies at the wedding and later at the bus stop. 12 girls and four boys had taken selfies with the bride and a man at the wedding had supposedly objected to this.

While walking back from the wedding venue, giggling into the video like any other college-going students, the girls described to their friends the ‘12th century attitude’ of people in the village. In a light-hearted way, they added that none of them should marry any man from the village and that they there were ‘cultureless’.

Little did they know that their video would find its way into social media platforms and invite an explosion of abuse from the angry men of Kilinakkode. The trolling, which included abusive comments, videos and audio clips against the girls, scarred them enough to file a complaint with the local police.

“It seems the villagers disapproved of them taking selfies at the wedding. A man put out a voice clip calling it, ‘For the attention of parents’, ridiculing the behaviour of the girls at the wedding.  Four of the girls came to the station on Tuesday, to give me a complaint about the clip,” says Vengara SI Sangeeth P.

Four young men shot another selfie video in response to the girls’ remarks on their village. Several others posted abusive comments and audio clips.

Even when the girls and their parents came to the Vengara police station, much drama played out. Almost 200 villagers came to the station, many upset with the video made by the girls.

SI Sangeeth says that all of Kilinakode came down to the station, offended by the girls’ video. Some took to Facebook and wrote ‘those who insulted a whole village are now in police station’, inviting more people to join in.

“The girls wanted me to call the man who made the voice clip and ask him to declare that it is not about them that he spoke. So I invited him over. The parents of the girls spoke to him and he agreed to release another audio clip, saying it is not about them. By then, the video clip released by the young men, against the girls, had also become viral. We called them over too and all the villagers came to the station. In the end, a compromise was reached and they have all gone away,” Sangeeth says.

A police complaint has been filed against the video clip made by the four men and the online abuse the girls had to face on social media.

But it seems the repercussions that the girls have had to face for their video has broken their spirit. The audio of one of the girls surfaced on Thursday, in which she clearly explains their plight.

“It was never our intention to insult the village or the people here. We had come to attend a friend’s wedding and were walking towards the stand to catch a bus. The place (Kilinakkode) is remote and we had to wait a long time to catch a bus. This was when a man approached us and berated us for bunking class and roaming around. He said he would inform our parents and started taking a video of us. We naturally ran away from the place. It was following this that we decided to make a video and send it to our friends when they called us to ask about the wedding,” she can be heard saying in the tearful audio clip.

According to local sources, the flurry of abuse and the trolling affected the prospective wedding alliances for two of the girls who were part of the video, and hence upset them and their families a great deal.

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