Anonymity can be a powerful tool when it helps empower the traditionally oppressed. A few organisations have begun to use Sarahah as a way to help people with a host of issues such as sexuality, health and domestic abuse.
Sarahah is guilty of enabling cyber-bullying and narcissism. Worse, last week reports emerged of users receiving anonymous rape threats. Granted – that is not the app’s fault per se, but it is still a facilitator.
Just when you thought it was unlikely, a few some good Samaritans have figured out a way to bring out the best in something like even Sarahah.
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Defenders of Sarahah say speech is free. If only speech were as free as touted to be! And especially around issues that deserve all the open conversation, they can get. In a country where marital rape is still not considered a crime, and millions of women are ostracized while on their periods – speaking freely about their bodies is a distant dream for many.
Women’s Health Line (WHL) is an organization that promotes informed and healthy conversation around (you guessed it) women’s health.
After seeing a deluge of hate posts on her Facebook feed, Swarnima Bhattacharya, founder of WHL, decided to put the app to better use. Why not ask women to send across the questions they were too shy, afraid or just confused to ask anyone publicly?
Ever since WHL launched the plan, the initiative has really taken off and they receive hundreds of requests from users. It’s here when anonymity can help. The company’s page is flooded with questions ranging from sexuality and menstruation to domestic abuse.
“LGBT and feminist friends of mine were getting a lot of hate messages. Anonymity can also be used as a tool of empowerment for people who do not have heterosexual identities,” says Swarnima Bhattacharya, founder of Women’s Health Line.
A lot of the messages they receive are around uncertainties regarding health issues. Such queries, says Swarnima, are answered by WHL consultants who are counselors and medical professionals.
“We are not attuned to look at our bodies in a way that needs medical treatment. Gynaecologists have been known to be a little dismissive about these issues – not all, but most are. There is also a lot of judgment. Hopefully, portals like ours, which have experts on it, can make a difference.”
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Red Elephant is another organization that aims to tell stories of the oppressed. They also use digital tools to help people exercise their rights.
“We had a question that was presumably from a married woman, which was the hardest to answer. She wanted to know whether what she was facing was marital rape, and it was terribly painful for us to affirm that it was rape. But at least, we have some solace that she was able to find somebody she could ask. And hopefully, she will get help.” says Kirthi Jayakumar, founder of Red Elephant.
We have had responses to our answers and some say they found help too, says Kirthi.
Other organizations doing similar work are That Mate, Ungender and Child’s rights group Aware.
To know more about these organizations, click on the links below:
Women’s Health Line
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