Newcastle MP Chi Onwurah stands up to internet trolls

Chi Onwurah, MP for Newcastle Central, became a target for cyber bullies after she spoke out on the issue of children's toys

Newcastle MP Chi Onwurah
Newcastle MP Chi Onwurah

An MP has said she’s determined to stand up to internet trolls after she received a barrage of abuse online.

Chi Onwurah, MP for Newcastle Central, became a target for cyber bullies after she spoke out on the issue of children’s toys.

She hit headlines earlier this month when she led a debate in parliament on gender-specific toys.

Chi pointed out that it was “illegal to advertise a job as for men only but apparently fine to advertise a toy as for boys only. Why should girls be brought up in an all-pink environment? It does not reflect the real world.”

She also condemned toy shops that have a pink aisle for what they see as girls’ toys and a blue aisle for boys’ toys.

But, ever since Chi spoke out, she has been on the receiving end of a stream of abuse on social networking site Twitter.

Chi said: “I’ve had quite a bit of intense abuse, the whole range right up to, although thankfully not including, death threats.

“Everything from aggressive sexual swearing to bizarrely being told that I’m both a publicity seeker and that no-one is interested in the issue.

“I’ve been told I’m stupid, lazy and had the strongest swear words directed at me.”

But she vowed: “I’m determined it’s not going to stop me.”

In her speech to parliament, Chi claimed that directing girls towards pink toys featuring princesses and domestic tasks, while boys are encouraged to play with construction toys and characters who have adventures, limits their horizons and is bad for the economy.

She pointed to a page from a 1970s Argos catalogue that featured toys such as a baby buggy or shop till in variety of colours and compared it to the current catalogue, which has the same toys but only in pink.

She said: “I’m not calling for legislation.

“There is a fear that you are accused of wanting a nanny state but we are just fighting for more choice so children can play with what they want.

“It causes a lot of distress among parents to see their girls forced down the route of being pink puppets.

“I’ve had a lot of parents contact me since the debate too.”

Fellow Labour MP Stella Casey received rape and death threats after she called for more women to be featured on bank notes.

And Isabella Sorley from Newcastle and John Nimmo from South Shields were jailed after they sent messages to campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez.

Another alleged troll is due to face court this month.

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