The current row over comedian Agrima Joshua’s video and its viral aftermath has once again highlighted some very important questions -
Is it acceptable to issue a public threat to anyone?
How much ever ‘insulted’ your sentiments are, is it acceptable for anyone to issue a rape threat publicly?
And, the most important question perhaps, how does someone issue a rape threat on a public platform, through a video, and not get arrested for it immediately?
It all started with a tweet by comedian Agrima Joshua where she posted a video from one of her old stand-up sketches. In the video, she jokes about speculation over the state government’s plans to build a statue of the Chhatrapati Shivaji in the Arabian Sea.
I ve instructed CP Mumbai and IG Cyber to take legal action expeditiously ..I urge everyone to maintain calm and law will take its course. https://t.co/laFCARvKUC
— ANIL DESHMUKH (@AnilDeshmukhNCP) July 11, 2020
The jokes didn’t go down well with many of the Maratha King’s followers, sending social media in a collective meltdown. While many created a hue and cry about “insulting” the great warrior, the Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Home Minister Ani Deshmukh even called for Agrima’s arrest.
छत्रपती शिवाजी महाराजांचा अवमान करणाऱ्या मुजोर कॉमेडियन अग्रीमा जोशुआला ताबडतोब अटक करण्यासंदर्भात मी गृहमंत्री मा. श्री. @AnilDeshmukhNCP यांना पत्र लिहिले आहे. आपण या विषयांची अत्यंत गंभीर दखल घेऊन असल्या विकृत कॉमेडियन ला अटक करून कडक कायदेशीर कारवाई करावी अशी माझी मागणी आहे. pic.twitter.com/AGuzgYpmtR
— Pratap Sarnaik (@PratapSarnaik) July 10, 2020
Post the social media furore, Agrima took down the video, posting a public apology for her jokes.
— Agrima Joshua 🇮🇳 (@Agrimonious) July 11, 2020
The real shocker for many came when a social media “influencer” Shubham Mishra aka badassshubham posted a video threatening to rape Agrima and also inciting his followers to do the same. In the video, Shubam can be seen saying –
“You know what will be funny, when I’ll f**k you from behind, that’ll be funny.”
“I’ll F***k your sister, your mother is already getting f*****d from everyone.”
“All of you, go to her social media account and fill her v*****a with some josh so she learns a lesson.”
Shubham Mishra has around 298,000 subscribers on YouTube and 35,200 followers on Instagram.
Condemning the content of Shubham Mishra’s video, many prominent personalities have started reaching out to the authorities, including the National Commission for Women (NCW), seeking Shubham Mishra’s arrest.
— Kunal Kamra (@kunalkamra88) July 11, 2020
— Swara Bhasker (@ReallySwara) July 11, 2020
The larger question – Does hurting religious or cultural sentiments amounts to rape threats? Are we living in a society where doing so is OKAY and has become a REFLEX?
This man in the picture has openly threatened to rape my colleague in his video. Then deleted the video and said “mera yeh matlab nahi tha” . The video was saved and is doing the rounds.
Let’s start with reporting his profile. If he feels bad then say “mera yeh matlab nahi tha” pic.twitter.com/6xYZEV37JH
— Sumukhi Suresh (@sumukhisuresh) July 12, 2020
Insulting and abusing women using rape and murder threats on social media is and will be common in a country that’s still being driven by patriarchal norms and sexist ideology, but the more pertinent question is – Are we doing enough to ensure that such behaviour is called out and dealt with utmost strictness? Perhaps, No!
Keeping in line with #NCW's commitment towards ensuring safety of #women online, our Chairperson @sharmarekha has written to @dgpgujarat for taking immediate action against Shubham Mishra, the man hurling abuses against a female comedian in this video.@kunalkamra88 @SaketGokhale https://t.co/6zfr6IEbyX
— NCW (@NCWIndia) July 11, 2020
Barring NCW, no other government body has responded to the matter so far. (No government body had taken action on the matter at the time of publishing this story).
How does someone issue rape threats on video and not get arrested immediately?
— Kiran Manral (@KiranManral) July 12, 2020
The vile man has now posted this 👇🏾 @NCWIndia perhaps because you tweeted that you will take action. Imagine the effect on other potential rapists if he were to actually be jailed as he should be for his violent, misogynistic, racist video. @MumbaiPolice @OfficeofUT @MinistryWCD pic.twitter.com/mhuzaWa55G
— Anna MM Vetticad (@annavetticad) July 11, 2020
While many are speaking up against the despicable ideology that triggers such rape threats and violent abuses, the real change cannot happen unless we teach our youngsters about equality, inclusion, sexuality, consent, tolerance and much more. The undeniable fact is that as long as women’s sexuality is a matter of “honour” in the eyes of the larger community, sexual abuse will always be the biggest weapon to hurt womankind. Strict legal action alone can put an end to this horrible trend.