Women seek help for COVID resources online; get vulgar messages, harassment instead

Ever since a monstrous second wave of COVID-19 infections hit the country, social media lent a helping hand to many to find resources. 

Hyderabad: Many women who are seeking help regarding oxygen, plasma and hospital beds online during the ongoing COVID-19 catastrophe end up finding themselves at the receiving end of vulgar messages and cyberbullying. New normal, is it?

Ever since a monstrous second wave of COVID-19 infections hit the country, burdening the government’s health infrastructure, social media lent a helping hand to many to find resources. 

Social media, especially Twitter, WhatsApp and Instagram is filled with pleas for hospital beds availability, oxygen cylinders, plasma, blood donors, Remdesivir injection and the like. Those who are on the lookout are sharing their details and are seeking to find some help.

This method has helped a lot of people online to match with those in requirement.

But, sharing personal details like phone numbers and social media handles led to women receiving vulgar messages and harassment instead, who just took it as an invitation for inappropriate behaviour.

One such incident was shared by Mumbai-based Shasvathi Siva, who asked for help on Twitter for family members who tested positive for COVID-19. Following the pattern, she shared her cell phone number for proper communication. A few days later, she alleged that some men had been harassing her and expressed her annoyance. 

While she did manage to get help in no time, moments later she started receiving phone calls from random people asking if she was single and commenting on her display picture on social media.

While some asked her if she would go out on a date with them, a few others sent unsolicited dick pictures from unknown numbers, much to her horror. She detailed her experience in an article for Vice India.

Many people sympathized with her and others burst out with anger as it happens to a lot of women, irrespective of their age and time.

https://twitter.com/_Itz_RSD_/status/1384800241791115268

Another Hyderabad-based content writer, who wished to be anonymous, told Siasat.com that she had been on the receiving end of harassment by unknown men. 

“I had shared my number for my uncle in need of plasma. A few contacted me offering help in a few hours and I thought it was done. But, the same night, I received at least 20 missed calls from two numbers, including messages that included cussed words. It was a stressful time,” she said, adding that she blocked those numbers and registered a complaint with the cyber police cell.

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah wrote in a tweet about the help requests that he had shared and women involved facing similar issues.

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