ARINDAM GANGULY, OP
Bhubaneswar, July 31: A global campaign of blacking out the profile pictures of women online created quite a furore on social media Monday. Millions of female users received a message which read: “Female blackout from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm. It’s a movement to show what the world might be like without women. Your profile photo should just be a black square so that men wonder where the women are. Pass it only to women… It’s for a project against women abuse. It is no joke. Share it.” After the message had gone viral many women blacked out their profile photos in a show of solidarity. While in the city many people supported the campaign, others objected saying that it made no sense at all. Seema Kumar Gill, social activist and founder member of The Women who supported the campaign, said it was a symbolic protest against “crimes against women”. She said that women in India face discrimination in various ways. “A woman has to face social exclusion and restrictions imposed on the basis of gender which is a violation of their fundamental rights,” she said.
Shruti Das, a writer and academic, supported the campaign and blacked out her profile picture. She said: “Sometimes to make the obvious look obvious in an apathetic world, propaganda and demonstration is necessary. The world must understand the importance of women and respect her. Change can only come if we strive to bring it. If you don’t make an effort to change the current state of affairs, nothing will change.”
Bhaswati Basu,state film award winning actress and daughter of theatre artiste Asim Basu, said women must understand their rights and must not accept or suffer everything as their fate. “Participation is important to usher in change. In India, many evil practices such as sati were abolished after centuries of protest. So we must accept our responsibility and contribute in a meaningful way,” she said.
However, there were all those who opposed the campaign. Twinkle Das, an avid social media user, said: “I don’t think it will have any impact. After the Nirbhaya rape episode we believed that mass protests will compel society to take strong action against the culprits and create a precedent by striking fear in the minds of rapists. But the mass molestation incident in Bangalore recently shattered that notion. Things will go on as usual until social attitudes and the general mindset undergo change. Frankly speaking, removing one’s profile picture for a day can’t even create a flutter.” Chitralekha Bhoi, a student, said: “I believe that in order to fight something, you must face it, make eye contact, put your foot down, and use your strengths. Simply vanishing into thin air and leaving people wondering as to what had actually happened is not the way to go about it. So, without disrespect to anybody I would like to say I don’t want to receive such messages.