Over this past week, Mumbai-based stand-up comedian Agrima Joshua has been at the receiving end of rape threats and abuses over a year-old video. With the dust yet to settle in the case, another female comedian has spoken up about the abuse she has been facing over a recent video.
Vipasha Malhotra, a musician and stand-up comedian, has now caught the ire of “so-called nationalists” after she posted a parody video on June 29 on the ban of TikTok in the country in light of the prevailing India-China tensions. Comments like “China chali jao (go to China)” started flooding the comments section of her social media accounts.
“Sarcasm pages, personal accounts and media pages like Bahadurgarh News Live – which has over 10,000 followers on Facebook – uploaded my video. All of them even put the same caption which stated that ‘these women don’t lament on the death of our soldiers and plight of farmers, but look how they cry over the ban of TikTok’,” says Malhotra.
“At first, I began moderating the comments but soon lost the count of the sexual slurs that I had received. It took no time for my video to go viral and many people started posting it with hate messages,” says Malhotra. Tired of arguing, and for the sake of her mental health, she eventually stopped responding and has put up a link on her Instagram bio of accounts to report.
Over the past few years with ‘nationalism’ taking on a new meaning, trolls fuelled by religious and political sentiments have become the new normal. But when the attacks are aimed at women, the ferocity is doubled and gendered.
“I felt like I have been stripped off for my dignity by words,” says Malhotra. “If a person doesn’t like something, they should say it a respectful manner. One cannot abuse and threaten someone recklessly like they always do with artists, and especially female artists who are thought to be a soft target,” says Malhotra.
Agrima Joshua’s story has brought to light once again the many challenges that female artists face in world where nameless, faceless trolls go on destructive hate campaigns. While Joshua has seen many step up to champion her cause, Malhotra hopes that action such as this may open the curtains for a culture of empowerment and support that every artist deserves.
Shaily Mishra and Ishika Aggarwal are final year journalism students at Delhi University.
Featured image credit: Visuals/Unsplash