Unsurprisingly, Facebook Took Down This Woman's Post In Which She Named And Shamed Her Harasser
"I wanted to publicly shame him, because his entitlement, his sense of feeling immune, is his greatest weapon. "
This is journalist Binjal Shah who, while covering an event at IIT Bombay, gave her number to a man on the press team of the organising committee.
During the last week of May, Shah was harassed by him over a series of WhatsApp messages, despite repeated warnings asking him to stop.
On May 30, when he didn't let up even after she blocked him, she posted the message screenshots on Facebook, along with a link to his profile.
The post was shared over 200 times in a couple of hours, but was then taken down by Facebook.
A Facebook spokesperson told BuzzFeed, "We’re concerned about any abusive behavior, and have made efforts to promote an environment where everyone on Facebook can connect and share comfortably. Our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and Community Standards prohibits the posting of content that bullies or harasses."
Basically, naming and shaming your harasser or bully is also considered harassment and bullying by Facebook, even if you have evidence. And, thus, all such posts are prohibited.
On May 31, Shah uploaded the entire post again, this time without the harasser's details, and with an update about how Facebook had taken down her previous note.
Shah told BuzzFeed that she has approached the Mumbai Cyber Crime cell and the department head from IIT Bombay that the harasser belongs to.
BuzzFeed reached out to the alleged harasser, but he refused to comment.
This is the complete text of the original post that Shah posted:
Everybody, I'd like you to meet (name removed) . He recently graduated from the management course at IIT Bombay. You know why he is SHIT outta luck, today? A) I happen to be a women's rights journalist and B) he decided to sexually harass me (over and over) in the same week that I spent working on a story titled "How to call out sexism: The aim is to tame, not to shame".
In my research, I found that you do not shame someone who perhaps didn't know any better when he decided to cross the line. You do not shame someone who you know, took his liberties and had his revelries, but on being called out anonymously, will realise how inappropriate it was what he was doing unknowingly, and will appreciate the second chance he got. You do not want to make his entire life about this one gaffe, if this man wants to start over, and is going to be a whole other person soon.
This guy, is none of the above. Symptoms: Cracking IIT comes with a level of education you can take for granted. And cracking an MBA program at a premier institution assures depth, and a slightly superior wavelength in their reckoning of the composition of the world. So, safe to assume, he knew what he was doing, and what effect it is meant to have on a woman. And, the very core of my argument - his messages, far from being ambiguous, were unsolicited, and clearly sexually explicit. They reeked of entitlement, and looked like the work of a cocky, seasoned harasser who is used to getting his way with women. They were meant to slut-shame me for having a display picture with my arm around a boy because that probably means that I have my other hand around a stranger's cock, right? (Also, sorry to break it to you, girls-who-get-hit-on-at-bars-annoyingly-often, the "I have a boyfriend" excuse that we have to shamefully resort to because our consent isn't even a part of the equation... well, it doesn't work anymore even if you're not lying. You are public property and everyone must have you. Safe to say, he would have made advances at me even if my DP was a picture of me taking my vows with my husband because here's a transcript of the ape's brainwaves: "Here is person. Lolololnope, she is pie. Let's ask pie. Oh, my pie talks and pie refused? Whatever, she is pie. I can haz pie. I will haz pie. What will pie do? Why pie get made? To get eaten. Let me tell pie, it is compliment that I want to eat it."
I want to out him in public because anonymity translates to a second chance for him. If I had chosen not to name him today, he would have left here feeling more resolute, perhaps more powerful and unbreakable — that he got away with this with zero repercussions. He must be publicly shamed, because his entitlement, his sense of feeling immune, is his greatest weapon.
He made lewd remarks again, when I unblocked him to see what lengths he can go to. In the free cyberspace, instead of every user not exploiting that freedom and acting responsibly, which entails not acting like a sex-offender, why should the onus lie on me to go and tediously block creeps from my Facebook, Snapchat, Whatsapp, Twitter, Insta, Vodafone, and effing monitor my calls from unknown numbers for the rest of my life? That is the offline equivalent of asking a girl not to take a street, erase it from her map, because she will get harassed there. Blocking him will change him, it'll just save one person, me, from his twisted antics. Maybe he shouldn't be allowed to roam the virtual streets at all? Maybe the streets are just safer without him on them?
Finally, a shout-out to all those who will tell me that his messages were only "slightly" inappropriate and his "degree" of wrongdoing doesn't warrant this much angst — I have experienced the full range of harassment, my friends.
My first kiss was my 40-year-old uncle. I was 10. Consent, obviously, was out of the question. My breasts and buttocks have been grabbed, jabbed, nudged, grazed more than a stress ball at a Wall Street office.
Don't tell me how to feel about each incident. They all feel the same. Like, momentarily, you were made to revoke the ownership of your body.
Don't start reasoning with me as to why this is too small a case for me to be starting my "reporting saga" with. Backed by the law, I will react to anything that strips me of my power to consent or refuse, and will heed the call of my heart whenever it feels like it was denied agency in a matter that concerns my safety and well-being.
The only degree that you should be talking about is the one I hope this dope is refused, by IIT Bombay. IIT, you do not want a paper trail that you have anything to do with producing a sexist, entitled hazard like him.