Ahimsā (अहिंसा) is a Sanskrit term meaning not to injure or do no harm, a missing trait among many Indian men who are well-known for their patriarchy, sexism, misogyny, sexual violence, physical assault, stalking, harassment, psychopathic behaviour and the general abusive manner in which they treat Indian women.

Sadly, the FOSS world is no exception and some men from the local Indian Foss communities have sent me abusive private messages, death threats, unsolicited messages asking personal questions, and a lot more. Since 2004 when I started volunteering in Foss, I have noticed this harassment pattern and this unique brand of sexist misogyny is reserved for the Indian woman living in India.

Within the Foss projects that I am familiar with, I have not seen an Indian man harass a white woman (including those who pass off as one) within the Foss communities, nor do they harass Indian women (or WOC) living outside India. Well, Indian women deserve respect too so for those Indian men who feel the urge to harass in private, here is a compilation of avoidable online behaviours and a general guide to avoid being a jerk online and/or in real life!

STEM, Technology & Diversity (WIT & FOSS, et al)

  • Why Diversity?:: I abhor flame-wars disguised as "Why Diversity?" and the needless baiting that occurs in "Women-In-Tech" discussions, a guise used to harass women (sometimes in private discussions). This is an unproductive time-sink in FOSS communities where the ratio of women core-devs is dismal - when women rarely participate in FOSS projects their chances of becoming a core-dev is almost nil, helping the status-quo continue.
    • The same goes for online flame wars on editors, programming languages or its syntax, frameworks, OS wars, etc.. You are entitled to your opinion, so feel free to keep the discussion in the public space and do not send me private messages to argue your point vehemently and endlessly.
  • Homework, Mentoring and one-to-one private mentoring:: Please read my blog post on getting started with contributions to Libre-FOSS projects if you want to volunteer, then direct your question(s) to the respective mailing list, IRC channel or any other public forum. I dont know every technology out there and dont have the time for one-to-one private mentoring. Community responses increase collaboration and indirectly benefit other people with similar objectives. Besides, a larger number of people from around the world are online 365x24x7 and they will be able to help you faster than I can in private.
  • Please dont send private messages arguing about the topics that I should write, blog or tweet about. Being in computing does not mean I must only talk "tech" and cannot write about music or rant about politics. FWIW, my blog is paid for and maintained as my personal space online in my personal capacity, so I get to decide how I want to socialize and engage with the online world.

Dont Kill The Messenger

  • Privacy & Public Shaming: My first-hand experience with the negative behaviour within the Indian FOSS community has made me rethink the privacy policy that these jerks exploit, namely, abuse in private, then loudly invoke their privilege to claim that their "Right to privacy!" was destroyed by the woman who dared to speak up and go public with their abusive behaviour.
  • Psychological manipulation is a very common and old tactic used to silence the victim (usually a women) from speaking up against abusive behaviour. Well, your right to privacy is not absolute, rather, it is a privilege inherent with social responsibility - a right you enjoy as long as its not abused, mis-interpreted or twisted to enable you to harass in private and stalk women online and into silence.
  • Women speaking up against your abuse, even if done in private, is NOT a violation of your rights! AFAIK, there is no law that prohibits women from speaking up against abuse, private or otherwise.
  • Off-list private messages that are abusive, trollish and violate COCs will be publicly published, reported or redirected to the respective authorities.
  • The trope that "_Women speaking up about abuse and harassment are tarnishing our great Indian heritage_" is a logical fallacy. The onus of protecting public artifacts a collective social responsibility, not the responsibility of woman only. When you stop the harassment and negative creepy attitude, she has no reason to point out alleged harassment. Voila, so simple!

Agree To Disagree

  • At an average of 49%, almost half the world population comprises women. By virtue of existing everywhere (if not credited for birthing the entire human race), women exist in FOSS communities in various roles. Your paths will cross online, within various Libre spaces or IRL. This is not a license or an invitation to vehemently insist on winning every argument because she dared to disagree with your opinion or point-of-view (POV), whether online or offline IRL.
  • DONT be the ubiquitous sexist-jerk who sends death threats and spams via off-list emails (including DM's/PM's).
  • DONT stalk women who disagreed with you inorder to intimidate them into silence, take revenge or try to teach her a lesson and induce fear tactics to subjugate her into silence.
  • DONT indulge in the character assassination of any Indian women, or claim she has ulterior motives in defaming the Indian man when she speaks up about the patriarchy, sexism, misogyny, sexual violence, physical assault, stalking, harassment and the generally abusive way Indian society treats half its population - Women!
  • DONT spread rumors about the Indian woman's motives, indulge in social engineering to obtain her personal/ private information, doxing , trolling, name-calling, or cyber-stalking her. These will hardly convince her of your POV. Quite the opposite, it is indeed the fastest way of convincing her what she already knows - that, you are definitely a first-class creepy jerk!
  • Only Indian movies still pay actors to enact stereotypes that shows them getting away with being a creep and winning her by the time the movie ends. Trying to emulate the reel-life in your real-life can have unintended (negative) consequences of being held accountable for one's actions, including criminal action.
  • Most importantly, dont feign surprise when your average fellow Indian male friend indulges in this crappy negative behaviour.
    • Silent apathy is collusion in crime, so Act, dont React! Instead of being a silent spectator and ignoring abusive behaviour, (or worse, silencing and telling women to not speak up), tell HIM to STOP being THAT GUY!

The GOI has statutes for Cyber-Crime and it has amended the Indian Penal Code (IPC) Criminal Law vide an Ordinance in 2013.[1]


Indic Vs. English

  • In the past, some Indian men have sent me emails in various Indic scripts, then got abusive when I didnt reply in their favorite Indic script or mother-tongue. Given that India has 800+ languages, I know a very limited number of Indic scripts, so DONT write private emails asking personal questions in multiple Indic scripts - it is negative behaviour whether you use the Queen's English or an Indic script. My preferred online communication language is English! Besides, Foss != dating site, so if you are looking for love, casual dates, one-night stands, friendly chats, or something else, you are at the wrong place!

Spam

  • Social Media/Networking :: I have never had a Facebook account (and dont intend getting one), so dont send me any FB invites or random social network invites. My lack of interest in joining every social networking site out there does not give you the right to spread rumors about me and/or make assumptions about my social life.
  • Jobs :: If you are a recruiter or head-hunter, please dont spam me with resume requests. New opportunities are always welcome but dont spam for a CV. If we have never met, and yet have common friends, copy them on the email you sent to me - a simple way to prove that you are not a head hunting spammer harvesting email id's. I dislike spamming people and will apply if it is relevant.

Resources

Other people have contributed their time an effort in to making some excellent and very useful fundamental guides to social behaviours, so do take some time to read through these links:

Thanks for reading!


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All contents here are liable to change with the right to add, delete, modify data being reserved by the Author.

Notes

[1] The Ammendment is available as a Gazette notification dated 03-Feb-2013 , which made stalking (including cyber-stalking) a criminal offence as per clause 6 section on "Stalking" 354D, that clearly states "whoever monitors the use by a person of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication, or watches or spies on a person in a manner that results in a fear of violence or serious alarm or distress in the mind of such person, or interferes with the mental peace of such person, commits the offence of stalking." Here is a Press Information Bureau release of the gazette notification.