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Rape Threat to Virat Kohli's 9-Month-Old Daughter: Where Do Trolls Draw a Line?

The barbaric tweet called for the toddler's photo to be revealed while issuing a rape threat.

Updated
Gender
4 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>The barbaric tweet called for the toddler's photo to be revealed while issuing a rape threat.</p></div>
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(Descriptions of sexual assault and physical violence. Reader discretion is advised.)

It is gruesome to even read the tweet by now-deleted account @Criccrazyygirl issuing a rape threat to a nine-month-old Vamika Kohli, daughter of Bollywood actor Anushka Sharma and India men's cricket team captain Virat Kohli.

While the identity of the person who tweeted the rape threat is yet to be verified, the screenshot has been amplified several times by right-leaning handles.

The barbaric tweet called for the toddler's photo to be revealed while issuing a rape threat. As on 1 November, the handle stands deleted from Twitter.

The tweet comes at a time when captain Kohli is facing vitriolic trolling for speaking in support of his Muslim teammate Mohammed Shami who was attacked online after the cricket team faced a 10-wicket defeat against Pakistan in the ongoing Men's T20 World Cup.

Shami was subjected to vicious online trolling and abuse on Instagram and Twitter soon after the match between the two teams, in which he conceded 43 runs in 3.5 overs, ended.

Issuing a strong statement slamming trolls who were questioning Shami's 'patriotism', Kohli said:

"To me, attacking someone over their religion is the most pathetic thing that a human being can do. Everyone has the right to voice their opinion and what they feel about a certain situation. But personally I have never, ever, even thought of discriminating someone over their religion. That is a very personal and sacred thing to every human being and that should be left there. People take out their frustrations because they have no understanding of what we do as individuals and how much effort we put on the field."
Virat Kohli
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Not the First Time

In what now seems to be a disturbing trend, former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni's five-year-old daughter Ziva Dhoni was also issued rape threats following his performance during IPL 2020 in October.

A 16-year-old boy, who was then a student of Class 12, was arrested by the Gujarat Police in connection with the case, later that month.

A resident of Namna Kapaya village in Kutch district, he had left a threat message on the Instagram account of Dhoni's wife Sakshi Dhoni.

This is No 'Love' for the Game, It's Pure Hatred

Cricket may be one of the most popular games in India, it may have die-hard fans, but some of these so-called fans readily embody toxic masculinity on social media when the team does not match their expectations.

Their 'love' for the game is forgotten, and what is left over is pure hate.

'Blaming' and directing vile messages towards actor Anushka Sharma every time Kohli-led India's performance lets fans down is almost a textbook response now – in turn leading to it being 'normalised.'

Way back in 2016, Kohli slammed the trolls and took a stand against them, when his then girlfriend Sharma was attacked – yet again.

"Shame on those people who have been having a go at anushka for the longest time and connecting every negative thing to her. Shame on those people calling themselves educated (sic)," Kohli wrote.

In 2020, Anushka Sharma broke her silence formally when a cricket legend made a sexist remark. In an attempt to criticise Virat Kohli’s form and preparation for the IPL, Sunil Gavaskar made a comment about how, during lockdown, Kohli was only spotted playing cricket with his wife.

“It’s 2020 and things still don’t change for me. When will I stop getting dragged into cricket and stop being used to make sweeping statements?” she asked on Instagram.

No, Gavaskar's comment cannot be compared to that of a nameless troll.

But these nameless trolls have stooped to yet another repugnant low. They are coming for the children. In a triggering display of toxicity, the hate messages – those of rape and physical violence – are being directed at girl children of these players.

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Meanwhile, multiple handles are also claiming that the threat was tweeted not from an Indian but a Pakistani account. While this has not been verified yet, does the identity matter?
Rape Threat to Virat Kohli's 9-Month-Old Daughter: Where Do Trolls Draw a Line?
Rape, death, and harassment threats online should be taken for what they are – and not dismissed just because they are made anonymously on the internet.

More than 50 percent of girls and women between the ages of 15 and 25 have been cyberstalked, sent explicit messages and photos, been harassed and abused online, according to a global survey by Plan International.

Of those surveyed, more than 7,000 girls said that they are more likely to be abused and harassed online than on the streets.

One in every four girls revealed that the abuse on social media made them feel physically unsafe.

And while social media allows the perpetrators and abusers to function anonymously and issue such blatant threats, in doing so it makes the targets of such abuse, especially children, doubly vulnerable.

If this could happen to the daughters of two of India's most powerful sportspersons, take a moment to imagine what it must be like for other women, and their children, on social media.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Published: 
Edited By :Saundarya Talwar
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