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The impact of #Selfiewithdaughter campaign

An Indian girl (Copyright: picture-alliance/dpa)

An Indian girl (Copyright: picture-alliance/dpa)

For the first time, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi utilized his social media presence and fan following to bring about awareness on the delicate subject of female feticide in the country.

Modi called upon parents, especially fathers across the nation to tweet photos of themselves with their daughters under the hashtag #Selfiewithdaughter. The idea behind the campaign was to promote his Beti Bachao, Beti Pado (Save the daughter, educate the daughter) campaign, a nationwide effort to address social bias against girls, female feticide and to improve the health and education of girls in the country. Twitterati took the campaign with zest as thousands of parents across the world participated in the campaign by posting selfies with their daughters.

Copyright: www.narendramodi.in

Copyright: www.narendramodi.in

The campaign however took an ugly detour when Bollywood actress Shruti Seth and National Secretary, All India Progressive Women’s Association, Kavita Krishan expressed their critical opinions on Twitter.

Seth, mother of an 11-month-old daughter, expressed her reservation that the campaign was nothing more than just eyewash. She called the PM “Selfieobsessed” and criticized the campaign for being shallow. “Selfies don’t bring about change, reform does. So please try and be bigger than a photograph. Come on!” This tweet provoked the wrath of devoted Modi fans and Seth was trolled and abused incessantly on Twitter. Seth eventually deleted her tweet and responded to the trolls in good humor.

In an open letter, Seth posted a response to the personal abuse.

“Men and women alike said the most vile things about me, stripping me of all my dignity as someone’s daughter, wife and mother and most importantly a woman. Men who were busy hash-tagging their selfies with their daughters one minute called me slanderous names the next. Asked me if I knew who my real father was. Questioned if I had been sexually abused as a child and hence was opposed to the idea of a selfie with my father.”

Seth was the not the only one on the receiving end. Krishnan was also subjected to similar abuse by trolls and Bollywood actor Alok Nath. Krishnan was critical of the PM’s campaign in light of the Snoopgate expose, which revealed copious phone transcripts, that indicated that Modi during his term as the Chief Minister of Gujarat allegedly instructed for information on a young woman. Krishnan wrote “The context was that I tweeted to suggest that parents should be careful before sharing selfies with their daughters, with the PM, since he had a history of stalking women.”

The Twitter abuse towards these women further underlined the reasons behind country’s skewed gender ratio. It unleashed the dark side of India’s misogynist and patriarchal society that not only blatantly disrespected and discriminated two women for voicing their opinions, but also threatened and abused them in the ugliest manner possible.

Seth rightfully asks “What is the point of taking selfies with your girls when you’re also responsible for creating the most toxic environment for them to grow up in? Why bother to increase the number of girls being born when you choose to treat them with such indignity and disrespect?”

The answers to her questions are tragically nowhere in sight.

Author: Roma Rajpal Weiß

Editor: Marjory Linardy

Roma Rajpal Weiß is an Indian Journalist and Blogger based in Bonn and can be followed @romarajpal.

 

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Date

14.07.2015 | 14:48

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