The Black and Blue Eye Project-Against Cyber Bullying

Aparna Gopan
Posted March 16, 2020 from India
News report on "The Black and Blue Eye Project"

"I would fuck her so hard that she's be in a wheelchair" .

This is one of the comments that was posted against Julia Hardy, a writer who works in video games , just because of the fact that she happens to be a woman in a male-dominated industry. This is a primary example of gender based cyber trolling. 

Let's call a spade a spade. Gendered Cyber trolling is more than just trolling. It's abuse. 

The number of people who systematically attack women and gender minorities on the basis of their gender is far too many to report.

Everytime a woman or a gender minority posts something that fires up into a debate, you can see how the comments tend to get sexist and threatening after a while. The focus of debate will shift from the post to the number of ways in which men would like to humiliate or threaten the person in question. The commentators will also get into detailed character assassination of the woman and sometimes graphically describe how they would like to harass the woman with gruesome details.

While US and Australia were topping the list of countries with the moat number of cases against cyber bullying, India has been a front-runner in this since 2018 when it topped the list.

I am a survivor of gendered cyber bullying, where my bullies used or rather targeted my gender in multiple cases. Most women I know have been cyber-bullied as well. But , there is no outrage against this growing mentality that it is okay to cyber bully a gender minority into submission. Since, cyber bullying doesnt leave visible scars like in the case of physical abuse, people seem to foster an indifferent and often tolerable attitude towards this crime. As a society, we are constantly failing new generations of children through this indifferent attitude which tolerates and encourages cyber-bullying.

This thought is what led me to act against this. I have been conducting sessions against gendered cyber bullying in colleges and schools of Kerala. Once while I was researching new case studies on the topic I happened to read the story of Angelina Green, a 14 year old who committed suicide due to cyberbullying in Indiana. Her story, especially the gruesome detail that she decided to end her life by choosing to hang herself from a tree next to her school bus stop so that her bullies could see her lifeless body stayed with me. This story tormented me to no end and I wanted to do more for the cause.

That's when I started "The Black and Blue Eye Project". It is a campaign series against cyber bullying which aims at working with internet giants and policy makers in detecting cyber crime on one hand and in preventing cyber crime on the other hand through empathy workshops against cyber-bullying in public spaces. The name as well as the aim of the campaign is to get people to see the hidden bruises and consequences of cyber-bullying. As a first step to that, we organised an exhibition against cyber bullying which showed screenshots of the most horrendous comments showcasing genderered cyber bullying along with paintings of women , children and gender minorities with black and blue eyes. This drove home the point that every rape threat and insensitive comment left a lasting scar on the survivor. We also covered 5 cases of teenage suicide from cyber bullying and got the visitors to pledge action against this crime. The camapign was received with huge praise from parents and educators and it was covered in detailed news reports on major TV News Channels as well as on various print and online media.

Parents and school going children were our main target group. We gave them measures to prevent their children from becoming a bully by installing apps like Rethink which would act like a Google keypad and send out a prompt when it detects insensitive words/phrases being typed out.

Our next step is to Target more cities . 10 educational institutions per city coupled with a free exhibhition for the public in an effort to maximise our reach and impact. We are also working on the development of an app which records the number of verified reports against social media accounts , to help create safe spaces and deterrent measures against this epidemic on a large global scale.

We dealt with a fair amount of criticism for taking action against this crime, where people think it's an infringement of the abuser's right to free speech. But those who argue fail to recognise that these public threats and comments contribute to the tolerance of gendered violence and encourage the spread of a toxic mentality which contributes to the numerous instances of acid attacks, harrasment and rapes that we rally against.

So, this Women's Day, as we talk about the numerous ways in which we can improve technology for women empowerment , let's also talk about empowering technology to create safer spaces for women , both online and otherwise.

This story was submitted in response to Become a Featured Changemaker.

Comments 16

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Anita Shrestha
Mar 16
Mar 16

Thank you for sharing

Aparna Gopan
Mar 17
Mar 17

Our pleasure :)

Jill Langhus
Mar 16
Mar 16

Hi Aparna,

Thanks for sharing your post again. Good luck with your application!

Aparna Gopan
Mar 17
Mar 17

:)

Hello, Aparna,

Wow! This is a very important movement! I applaud you for starting The Black and Blue Eye Project. We stand with you, and may this project spread like wildfire globally! I hope you become a featured Changemaker!

Aparna Gopan
Mar 17
Mar 17

Thank you for the show of solidarity, Karen. Warms our heart to hear this and I wish to take out exhibition to other cities through this .

You are welcome, dear sister!

maeann
Mar 21
Mar 21

Hi Aparna :) go go go! good luck with your application.

Aparna Gopan
Mar 22
Mar 22

Hey ! Thank You :)

Akshaya9
Mar 22
Mar 22

Hi Aparna,
Thank you for sharing this to us. Your doing a great job for the women who are become victim of bullying, continue what you are doing dear. Keep safe.

Take care!

Aparna Gopan
Mar 29
Mar 29

Thank You, Akshaya. Hope you are staying safe these days :)

Akshaya9
Apr 07
Apr 07

Your welcome dear

vijaipm
Mar 28
Mar 28

Very heart touching and a common issue most of our sisters faces out there cyber bulling. It is hard to change everyone men out there to stop harassing, or stop bulling women, but if the resources are not available this is possible. Tech giants should work on auto detect mechanism like rethink and should auto delete such comments or posts on any social media or on any internet space

Aparna Gopan
Mar 29
Mar 29

It is indeed a herculian task to change the mentality of indifference people have against cyber-bullying. I think, once we are able to change that mentality, we will have more scope to change things .

Priya Goswami
Mar 31
Mar 31

Thank you for sharing this! Your work is inspired!

Chi8629
Apr 26
Apr 26

Thank you for sharing beautiful.