We Love to Hate Sarahah
As teenagers some of us perhaps wrote anonymous letters to teachers and classmates either for fun or to convey something which otherwise couldn’t be dared to. As adults these came to be known as whistleblowers who take shelter and pride in anonymity.
Perhaps taking a cue, the new internet sensation – an app called Sarahah (Arabic for honesty) was designed. Launched in February 2017, Sarahah was designed to allow users submit ‘honest’ comments, questions, and critiques to their peers. Though the App tops the charts for app downloads, but it has found more criticism than appreciation.
Sapna Bakshi who works at the reputed Job4Her podium, which helps women get back to work after a sabbatical, says, “I am totally against this app; if not used diligently, this app also has potential to be very risky. People tend to misuse it in a wrong way for bullying others and get into cyber crime. Secondly, this will encourage in ‘wearing a mask’—thus lack of confidence and inefficiency in a person, especially youngsters.”
Brand and Communications professional, Smriti Advani is also not very appreciative of the App. Mother to a one-year-old girl and based in the tech-city Bengaluru, Smriti’s latest social media post goes as follows:
My friend and former colleague from CNN-News18, Megha Mamgain an Executive Producer & Anchor asserts,” For millions of users, social media is a wall they hide behind to fire un-parliamentary words, threats, their frustrations at you. The anonymity the new app Sarahah is claiming to provide is just a boon for trolls as well as criminals. A girl just got a rape threat through the app – I rest my case.”
I do not disagree with these three women and many more who wrote to me in a similar fashion. After all, the reports of the App now facing flak for encouraging trolls to send abusive and threatening messages are pouring in.
Amit Garg Director – Devoir Technologies Pvt Ltd in Chandigarh asserts, “These women have a valid point. Although you can block the messages, the user will still need to read the message first. As such, women and teenagers girls fall easy prey to this kind of online abuse and harassment. So why do we need an App for more?”
So should Sarahah be banned? Was the idea a total disaster?
No, the Idea is a boon for many via two good samaritans. These two women are ‘revolutionising the life of other women’ through Sararah. Yes, you heard it right!
Sararah–The Women Healthline
Meet Pallavi Pareek, Managing Partner, Ensuring Diversity and Inclusivity through Legal Compliance at Ungender.in
And Swarnima Bhattarcharya, founder of Women’s Health Line (WHL) which is promotes informed and healthy conversation around women’s health.
We first come to Swarnima who inspired Pallavi. After seeing a downpour of hate posts on her social media feed, Swarnima decided to put the app to a better use in a country where for most of the women discussing openly about their bodies and related issues is still a distant dream. She thought ‘Why not ask women to send queries they were too shy/afraid/confused to ask anyone publicly?
Swarnima writes to me, “Not only did people love the idea, we received 150+ responses in just 3 days, and it inspired a few sister organisations to do the same. We are answering all queries on our Instagram handle womenshealthline.” The company’s page is flooded with questions ranging from sexuality and menstruation to domestic abuse.
Two users of this idea WHL spoke to me on condition of retaining their anonymity. They happen to be friends’ friend. I list one of them here, a mother whose happy tears could be felt on phone. Mrs Abholkar (name changed) a 50-year-old home-manager from Mumbai told me,” I was facing issues with my gay son. My family just doesn’t let me talk or discuss with anyone for the fear of repute. Connecting to WHL through Sararah has pulled me out of depression and given a big hope for my son. God bless the founder.”
Whether health issues or other, Swarnima informs these queries are answered by WHL consultants who are counselors and medical professionals. WHL claims to be currently the only platform in the country that exclusively deals with Women’s Health issues by exploring through various forms of media and experts. And with Sararah being put to an amazing use…they have clearly changed the game for women!
Sarahah–The Women Helpline
Pallavi Pareek, founder of Ungender.in went a step ahead of Swarnima. I let her explain in her own words, “Few years ago we launched @AskPallavi using social media and it was very helpful to invite questions. But we noticed that people were still hesitant in framing the questions right or concerned specially with their name being visible to everyone. Eventually people started messaging us privately. With “Sarahah” we are looking forward to transparency of reality for the state of sexual harassment laws while the identity of the individual remains hidden.
Pallavi adds, “We have launched an anonymous query profile for people who have any question with respect to sexual harassment laws, incidents, remedies, authorities, wayouts, and more. If you ahem a query, Leave them here—> sexualharassmentatworkplace.Sa
I happened to discuss this with Amit Garg of Devoir Technologies Pvt Ltd again. He jumps at it, ” Wow! This effort will go a long way to help women.” Looking at his young techie wife Aditi who also beams at this idea, Amit adds,” Such message through Sarahah will go a long way in revolutionising the life of the women as a constructive feedback will help them pave a better way ahead of them. All this effort needs is a good journalism about it (please pen a story he requests) and ample positive marketing on various social media sites.”
Thus to help you connect to more such websites, who are saving both women and Sarahah from disgrace, we at Techthirsty.com are providing you a few links below:
Mahima Sharma, Columnist TechThirsty
Author is former News Editor CNN-News18 & ANI (a collaboration with Reuters)