For women volunteers helping out in the Chennai floods, it came across as a rude shock when their personal details were being used by strangers, mostly perverts, to bother them.
Pragya (name changed) was one of the several people who eagerly offered to volunteer and help with the rescue and relief operations being carried out in rain-ravaged Chennai.
Things however didn’t seem to have turned out well for her. Just recently, she shared a screenshot of offensive messages sent by a man, who she said was from Hyderabad. She had posted her contact details online, and that is how the man got through to her.
When she asked the guy what she could do to help him, he responded by saying that she could “do anything to him”.
Pragya’s is not a one-off incident. Several women volunteers, who shared their contact details on social media with intentions to help flood victims, have come forward to complain about the harassment.
A friend of Pragya’s, who shared her post on Facebook, later wrote that they had approached the police. The screenshots were later taken down from the social networking site after the harasser apparently apologised.
For women volunteers, it came across as a rude shock when their personal details were being used by strangers, mostly perverts, to bother them.
Take the example of Poornima (name changed). She had given out her contact detail when she started to collect relief material. This is how she described her personal experience to the TOI.
He initially promised to contribute 500 loaves of bread and then brought it down to 100. When I told him he could drop the supplies in Koramangala, he called to say he was in the area, asking me if I wanted to have tea. ~ Poornima, Volunteer
A man who identified himself as Azhagu did not donate anything, but constantly kept messaging her.
And then there were those who received all sorts of weird calls, numerous friend requests and messages that had nothing to do with the relief operations.
Dhivya Balachander, who is a civil engineer and one of the administrators of the Facebook page Tamil Nadu Flood, told The Hindu, “They start off saying that they are like brothers to the women or thank them for their help and then, they want to be friends. Then, they send messages or ask questions that have nothing to do with the work we are doing.”
Another volunteer from Bengaluru also had an “awful” encounter.
One man kept messaging and telling me he was scared. I asked him what the matter was, and he said he was feeding a calf. He messaged throughout the night and I ignored him. The next day, it escalated: he said he was alone in a room full of water but when I tried to find out where, or get his number to organize help, he would say he did not know. Then, he said to ‘consider him a brother’ and kept trying to send me a picture. It was awful. ~ Divya T, Volunteer
Feature story source – The News Minute