Ahmed-Sheikh goes public over harassment
SNP MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh handed over 100 files recording online abuse to the police yesterday in the hope the move would give others the courage to speak out.
The Ochil and South Perthshire politician helped promote a cross-party effort to end “trolling” by making public the sexist and racist messages she received since being elected last year.
Her move came days after Labour’s Yvette Cooper announced the launch of the Reclaim the Internet campaign against misogyny.
The SNP women’s and equalities officer said: “I’ve tried to keep quiet about it and I haven’t spoken about these things until now. I do worry about the effect speaking out might have.
“But I am a mum of three girls and more people need to know about how this affects us and how you can feel demeaned.
“We are already facing a deficit of women, of people with disabilities, of members of the LGBTI community in public life.
“If there are already under-represented groups, how are we ever going to get them to come forward unless we tackle this?”
The Muslim MP also revealed that much of the abuse targeted her appearance and because she was a woman.
Ms Cooper officially launched the campaign last Thursday in the hope to end “sexist abuse, misogyny, racism and violent threats online.”
She added: “Forty years ago women took to the streets to challenge attitudes and demand action against harassment on the streets.
“Today the internet is our streets and public spaces.
“Yet for some people online harassment, bullying, misogyny, racism or homophobia can end up poisoning the internet and stopping them from speaking out.
“We have responsibilities as online citizens to make sure the internet is a safe space. Challenging online abuse can’t be done by any organisation alone … This needs everyone.”
Tory equalities select committee chair Maria Miller, Lib Dem former minister Jo Swinson and Labour MP Jess Phillips are also part of the campaign.