This Woman Hopes Her Brave Response To A Hacker's Request Will Help Us Take The Internet Back

"I do this so that other women may take a lesson to stand up to bullies."

Taruna Aswani got an email that would make anyone shudder.

An anonymous man emailed her to say that he had sexually explicit images of her, and unless she met his demands he'd send them to her friends and family. The demands? That she send more sexually explicit material to him.

Writing to her under the name "Kevin John," the man claimed to have met her in Mumbai and said he used his "computer skills" to find videos that she had made for her boyfriend. 

Instead of complying with the predatory demands, Aswani decided to fight back on Facebook.

"I have in the last 24 hours received 2 emails from someone that claims to know me that has hacked into my google cloud back up," she wrote. "As embarrassing as the videos may be ( they were sent to my boyfriend at the time ) I choose to stand up to this man. Instead of cowering down to his requests. I do this so that other women may take a lesson to stand up to bullies and lowlifes like this and may get the confidence to stand up as well."

Aswani's post quickly went viral, garnering more than 4,500 shares and 23,000 likes. 

Her post inspired hundreds of women in the comments section, who all expressed support for her bravery. It comes at a time when authorities are figuring out ways to handle revenge porn across the globe. In southern Australia, new laws make sending revenge porn punishable by heavy fines and even prison time. Aswani told India Express that authorities hadn't found her hacker, but she's hoping that the popularity of her Facebook post helps — both in locating the hacker, and in encouraging other women to fight back.

For decades now, led by organizations like Take Back The Night, women have marched arm-in-arm through the streets in defense of their rights to be safe, secure, and free from harassment. In a 2014 article for The Atlantic written in the wake of Jennifer Lawrence's leaked photosMarlisse Silver Sweeney wrote that the information superhighway "has become just another alley in which women must walk faster and look over their shoulders." Here's hoping that thanks to brave, outspoken women like Lawrence and Aswani, we can begin the work of taking back these (digital) streets.

Cover image via Shutterstock.