Picture this: You got to attend a meeting in office, need to pick up your mother on the way, and are already pressed for time. You struggle but finally get an auto and speed away. But midway, the driver tells you he can’t ferry you any further. 

Has the vehicle broken down? Has something earth-shattering happened so he has no option but to ask you to get down?

No, nothing of this sort. Instead, the driver just decides you are not suited to take a ride in his auto. He drops you half-way, before you have either picked up your mother or reached office.

It will leave you furious, right? You will clench your teeth and threaten to take him to police. And if you believe in action, you will actually approach cops to teach the driver a lesson, isn’t it?

Mumbai-based Asmi Shah did exactly that

In her case, the driver’s behaviour, besides being irresponsible and unethical, also reeked of body-shaming. He told her she was “too fat” for her auto. “Main mote logon ko apne auto mein nahi bithata (I don’t let fat people sit in my auto),” the auto driver told Shah.

A seething Shah captured the auto’s number plate in her phone, took to Twitter and spoke about her ordeal while tagging the Mumbai police. The Mumbai police too thought the driver needs to be called out, and they took Shah’s complaint seriously.

Alas! It turned out Shah was fighting a lone battle and, instead of being encouraged, went on to face massive abuse on the social media.

Going by their name and profile photo, most abuses are coming from men.

More abuse:

This tells us a lot of things about the way the society, especially men, look at female harassment and big women. 

So let’s analyse some abusive posts here

  • That Shah is seeking cheap publicity

It’s true that there have been cases where women have falsely implicated men in order to get even with them or simply seek attention. But it’s as unfair to criticise a woman speaking against abuse as to paint all men as molesters. While it’s fair to ask for investigation, it defies logic how Shah would make up something like this to seek publicity.

  • That she should lose weight

Just when did being big become illegal? One user said unless one has “hormonal” issues, being fat is a crime. Going by that logic, everyone above a certain BMI should be in jail. WTF! Another user said the auto driver was right – his auto, his decision. But dropping a passenger mid-way without reason is harassment, not freedom. 

  • That mocking “fat” woman is a birthright

Because big women invite mockery. That’s what Bollywood and popular culture has told us. In the past, all female comic characters were invariably played by big women. Even today, the most popular woman in the stand-up comedy scene, Bharti Singh, is big and is known for her jokes on her own big frame. 

Now, we may be generalising, but imagine a ‘slim young thing’ taking to Twitter to complain about an auto driver harassing her. Now imagine the reactions. You get it, right?