The #IAmTrolledHelp for women, started by women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi to tackle online bullying, stalking and abuse, has drawn many complaints which are simply hilarious and unconnected to the helpline created for the purpose.
“Seeking help on my home mortgage case in United Kingdom and demanding action against my husband,” says one complaint.
Another pleads, “Maneka ji, please ensure that people do not unnecessarily bother Madhuri Dixit with nasty comments. She is a good actress.”
The helpline along with a special cyber cell was started by the WCD ministry on July 6. Out of the 200 complaints that have landed at firstname.lastname@example.org so far, the cell has filtered about 30 actionable ones and managed to get two Twitter accounts blocked.
“Most of the actionable complaints involve online stalking and indecent behaviour. For instance, a girl has written how after she accepted a friend request from a man on Facebook, he has bombarded her FB page with pornographic pictures. She had sent screenshots of the page. We have forwarded the complaint to FB and also told the girl to lodge a police complaint,” said one of the staffers manning the helpline who did not want to be named.
The ministry also follows up the complaints with the police.
Dealing with ‘serious complaints’ is the easy part of the job for the two-member staff manning the helpline. “We follow the standard operating procedure given to us. Once we filter a serious complaint, we forward it to Twitter. Depending on the nature of complaint, Twitter decides to block or suspend the account,” said the staffer.
But it’s complaints like the one from the Madhuri Dixit fan that leave the team foxed. The complainant wants the minister to ensure that the Bollywood star is not harassed.
“On a given day, we receive 25-30 complaints that range from outright ridiculous to sundry complaints seeking help on a relationship gone bad or some domestic violence issue,” said the second staffer. “We receive a lot of complaints about domestic violence which we forward to the ministry’s cell that handles such cases,” the staffer added.
Among the complainants was a girl who claimed she was being harassed by her neighbours for feeding street dogs.Another woman wanted the ministry to sort out a fight she had with a friend.
Maneka Gandhi had initially asked women who have been at the receiving end of online abuse, to complain to her directly at email@example.com, but later created a dedicated email address for the purpose. Though the move has been welcomed by women at the receiving end of online abuse, it has not gone down well with a section of the BJP and the RSS.
A senior BJP functionary had told Hindustan Times last week that though the party is firm that there should be no abuse or intimidation on platforms such as Twitter, there is an “overwhelming concern over the implications of the government stepping in. It is for the platforms to take action against abuse, or else the mandate lies with law-enforcement agencies.”