Chinmayi's petition against rape threats gets over 50,000 signatures; Twitter yet to respond

Shekhar H Hooli
Chinmayi Sripada

Singer Chinmayi Sripada's petition against rape threats, filed on Change.org, has got an overwhelming response with over 50,000 signatures, but the bosses of Twitter are yet to respond and take action.

Many celebs have cried foul over getting rape threats on social media and have tried to garner attention for the issue, but no one has been successful. Now, Chinmayi Sripada, who is one of the leading Indian singers, has waged a war against social media in a bid to get a permanent solution for the females undergoing humiliation. 

Chinmayi Sripada filed a petition against rape threats on Change.org and posted the link on her Twitter page on Monday. The singer also wrote: "This is a petition I have been working on for a while to make Twitter safer for women. The timing cant be more right. Twitter cannot be a tool to issue rape threats against women. Do sign my http://change.org petition."

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The singer wanted the signature of around 50,000 people for her petition, which has got 52,388 supporters in 4 days. "I tweeted the petition on Monday morning and it has crossed 50,400 and something as of now. The target was 50,000. The signatures have crossed 50,000 which is a good thing," Chinmayi told NDTV.

Quoting the example of the Delhi University student, Chinmayi Sripaada said, "Very recently Gurmehar Kaur's tweets attracted a lot of rape threats. When the society is going slightly off kilter on a platform, then we need to correct the platform perhaps. Such expressions (rape or acid attacks) need not have any freedom."

Chinmayi claimed that she started receiving threats online five years ago and she was one of the first people in India to file a complaint against it and get the person arrested. She says that it was a difficult task as Twitter refused to divulge the details of the trollers. She identified them with the help of her fans and got three people arrested and they spent 10 days in jail.

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Here is the petition of Chinmayi with the title - Large scale shut down of accounts which tweet rape threats against women! If you have not signed yet, click here to do it.

"You need to be raped ..."

"I'll throw acid on your face"

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"I'll make sure you never sing again"

These were just a few tweets that I got for expressing my opinion on twitter. I am a playback singer in the film industry and I accept that I will be in the public eye.

But these threats of violence left me shaken and scared for my life.

When I tried to report these threats Twitter simply ignored my fears. They told me that they would not take any action unless there was a police case.

Most women give up at this stage and quit Twitter. I decided to fight and filed a police complaint. Ultimately it was my fans who helped us identify my abusers. 3 people were arrested and spent 10 days in jail.

The entire incident left me furious! I am a celebrity and I have time, support and resources to fight. But what about the millions of ordinary women who use Twitter and face rape threats everyday?

It is the responsibility of Twitter to ensure that their platform is not used for promoting violence against women.

That's why I started this petition asking Twitter to send a strong message against online abuse by doing a large scale shutdown of accounts which tweet rape threats against women.

Twitter has recently come out with new safety policies for it's users. It talks about 'mute' and 'block' functions.

But twitter has never done a large scale shutdown of accounts that promote violence against women.

In 2015, 360,000 twitter accounts were shut down for links to terrorism. Why can't the same be done for accounts that tweet rape threats?

Twitter has to accept its responsibility. In its latest safety update twitter has said, "We're listening and want your feedback so we can learn faster, build smarter, and make meaningful progress."

I want Twitter to listen to its women users.

I do not want to censor free speech and disagreements which are subjective and personal. But threats of rape can be objectively tracked and should not be protected as a "right to speech".

Some men think rape threats are no big deal. That it's ok to use rape or murder as casual threats.

Rape is one the worst forms of violence. Threats of rape and other gender-based violence are weapons that are used to subjugate and silence women.

If Twitter does a large scale shut down of these accounts that threaten to rape women, it will send a very strong message that the platform cannot be used for such vicious attacks.

Women across the world are beginning to find Twitter hostile and traumatic. It's time Twitter cleaned up it's act and showed women that it is truly listening to our concerns.

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