Obscene trolls and senders of offensive private messages to women on Facebook should be worried, especially if they are in or from Kerala. A Facebook page called 'Sexually Frustrated Mallu', or SFM, is providing a platform to victims to name and shame their cyber-abusers.
The page works in a straightforward and simple way, in its bid to shame the obscene trolls. If you get trolled with abuses or receive an obscene private message, take a screenshot and post it on the SFM page. And then, wait for all the decent netizens to shame the trolls at their own game. The page was started in November 2014, and already has 7500 'likes'.
The page was started by five friends, all in their 20s. "We have received a lot of responses to our page. Some offenders threaten they will continue to do what they want, but others have apologized and begged us to remove their ugly posts from the page," says one of them.
The five are also ensuring that they keep their own identities secret. "Anomymity is the only weapon we have in self-defense. If we make ourselves public our social media accounts will be decimated," they say.
The page has also found support among individuals who are quite often subjected to obscene or abusive trolling. Take for instance Malayalam TV presenter Ranjini Haridas, who is a perpetual victim of cyber-abuse, often to the extent of slanderous trolls on her private life. "A lot of things that I represent are not liked by people - that I speak English, I wear western clothes, I hug people on stage - boys or girls, I stand with my legs apart... But the comments against me, especially on social media have heavily laden sexual connotations and that has saddened me," says Ms Haridas.
Activist and writer Sandhya SN is among those who herself puts up shameful private messages sent to her on Facebook, right on her wall. "This kind of abusive mindset already existed. But with technological advances, the platform has shifted, and access has become easier. The comments are mostly about body, personal life etc," she says.
Kerala's cyber cops admit the sexual abuse of women in cyberspace is rampant and difficult to curb. "On an average I get 10 cases every day from women, mostly related to Facebook and online abuse," says Thiruvanathapuram Police Commissioner H Venkatesh.
"We have legal measures in place, which include issuing notices to the Facebook legal cell. It takes time and we can only take action in cases which are reported to us. We don't have mechanisms to monitor and regulate everything. Complaints are increasing so much that we are now looking at increasing cyber cell manpower and expertise," he added.