Talking about Online Abuse at the Online Safety Summit


SheThePeople.TV hosted the Online Safety Summit for Women on 29th September, 2018 in Mumbai, empowered by UN Women, Facebook and ColorsTV. The aim of the summit was to kick start conversations on major safety challenges faced by women and other communities in the digital space, and the ever-changing challenges of the digital environment. Safecity was one of the Outreach Partners at the event and Supreet K Singh, our Director and COO, moderated one of the panels.

The Summit began with a keynote speech by actress Aahana Kumra (Lipstick under my Burkha), who was interviewed by Shaili Chopra (Founder, SheThePeople.TV). Aahana spoke about her experience as a star on digital media and the various challenges and problems she faces. She spoke about how she has been mercilessly slutshamed, trolled and abused online by anonymous users and how she never knew her rights when it came to dealing with online harassment. Aahana shed light on why enough women don’t come forward to support those who are brave enough to speak out – because they are scared of ruining their position in the film industry, they fear they will stop getting roles if they do so. Aahana called for digital media platforms to take the onus upon themselves to stop the harassment faced by women online on their forums. She was emphatic about the need for people to be able to express their opinions on an issue without facing online harassment. She also mentioned that the film industry should use their privilege to speak about social issues and online safety. She said, “the importance of taking names is unparalleled. It is the responsibility of women today to speak out to ensure young girls in future don’t go through the same.”

The first panel was moderated by Shaili Chopra, and consisted of Akancha Shrivastava (cyber safety expert), Abha Singh (advocate), Anjali Chhabria (psychiatrist and author), Puneet Bhasin (advocate) and Aiana (blogger and influencer). The topic of discussion was “New Online Safety Challenges’.

The panelists shed light on the various legal acts available to us for recourse in case of online harassment. There was a consensus that women don’t have the knowledge on what is harassment, what to do when faced with harassment, and hence knowledge is empowerment in these kind of situations. Often times women can’t even identify when they are being subjected to abuse, and that even creating a fake identity online is a punishable offence. They agreed that once there is knowledge and awareness about safety, laws and how to approach the police, people will be empowered. It is important to report, if not in person, then to mail or tweet to the police.


The second panel of the day was moderated by Kiran Manral; with Avnita Bir (director principal, R.N. Podar School), Rakhee Chhabria (TeachersHelpTeachers), Bharti Dekate (WorldReady), Uma Subramaniam of Aarambh and Nandita Shah of Akshara. The panel focused on Youth and Technology:Dealing with the Online Space.

Cyber bullying is a major problem today, and the primary motive for youth going online is their need for social validation, which exacerbates the cyber bullying problem. Attention Deficit Disorder, lost sense of identity, anger management issues are some of the vulnerabilities and chronic problems caused by the obsession of youth with technology. The panelists spoke about the need to save the youth from cyber bullying. 

The third panel of Hrishikesh Kannan, radio producer & host; Jency Jacob of Boom and Rohini Ramnathan, radio host; was on the topic of how media can promote online safety. Moderated by Shaili Chopra, the panelists spoke about how the widespread propagation of fake news on social media is a serious challenge. Editors should be more diligent and accountable in their reporting. Instead of breaking out the news first, media outlets should focus on the veracity of their sources and ensure that the news they are publishing is correct, instead of just being quick.

The final panel of the day, on Gender and Online Abuse, was moderated by our Safecity’s co-founder Supreet K Singh. The panelists were Dr. A L Sharada of Population First; Tara Kaushal, writer of Why Indian Men Rape; and Audrey D’mello of Majlis.

The panelists discussed how  the internet gives a platform to women and marginalized communities to voice their thoughts but at a cost. Women face constant online abuse and trolling for merely expressing their opinion, especially if the woman in question is a public figure. As women are getting more empowered, this is leading to a feeling of insecurity among men who are retaliating with violence – both online and offline. Moreover the anonymity of the online abuse is another major problem. The panelists concluded that the solutions are: to provide enough emotional support to abuse victims, and not just legal remedies; take online abuse as seriously as physical abuse and put the onus on the platform to regulate; and that women should not back down and continue to reclaim online spaces without letting the fear of abuse hamper their spirits.


















Currently pursuing her undergraduate degree in Economics, Dhwani Nanavati volunteers in the communications department at Safecity. She believes that the best way to advance women’s rights is by raising awareness, and Safecity is the perfect platform for the same. Apart from academics, she enjoys reading, writing, dancing and debating.


Your browser is out of date. It has security vulnerabilities and may not display all features on this site and other sites.

Please update your browser using one of modern browsers (Google Chrome, Opera, Firefox, IE 10).