The comments being directed her way are not okay.
Love Island‘s Tasha Ghouri made history as the first ever deaf contestant to appear on the popular reality television show when she walked through the villa doors. The 23-year-old model and dancer has sensory loss, due to the small hairs in the cochlear being damaged or missing when she was born and so wears a cochlear implant. She refers to it as her ‘superpower’.
But the comments being made online about her – and the ableist abuse being spouted on social media – has forced her family to ask the public to “avoid making fun of her superpower.”
Posting to Instagram, her family wrote:
“Hey Everyone! We thank everyone for the love and support for our gal Tasha as we are behind her 110%. We understand everybody has opinions both negative and positive but please could we avoid making fun of her superpower – let’s lead with love always.”
As Grazia writer, Aaliyah Harry points out in her piece declaring that the ableist abuse of Tasha needs to stop, some of the comments on social media are too offensive to share.
One of the milder comments (if you can believe it) that she highlights as having seen on Twitter states: “Tasha is so annoying someone should just rip her hearing aid of – I can’t stand her voice either.”
Not only are comments like the one above pretty vile, it’s also completely misguided. In an explainer before she entered the villa, Tasha outlined the difference between a hearing aid and cochlear implant:
“Hearing aids simply amplify sound, but if the brain can’t understand the noise, it’s just noise. The implant has small fibre optics pushed into the cochlear to replace the missing hairs that stimulate the fluid and send intelligent messages to my brain. The outer part is a computer that is programmed for the frequency of my loss.”
Another tweet that we’ve seen not only makes disgusting sexist comments about Tasha, but jokes they’re glad she’s deaf as they can’t hear them screaming the abuse at her.
From the moment that Tasha was announced as the first deaf contestant to ever enter the villa, there has been a worrying amount of abuse directed her way. Some members of the public have taken to Twitter to highlight the fact that videos mocking her voice are doing the rounds on Tik Tok.
Deaf and disabled journalist and campaigner Liam O’Dell, who has been following the comments aimed at Tasha online, has called on ITV2 to do more. “The general condemnation of ‘trolling’ is insufficient, @itv2 – you must be specific and condemn the ableism and audism outright.”
Speaking exclusively to Marie Claire about the abuse targeted at Tasha, O’Dell said: “The violent ableism I have seen from viewers of Love Island directed at Tasha has been sickening. Many of the comments I’ve read have targeted her deaf accent, fantasied about damaging her cochlear implant, or expressed a desire for her partner Andrew to physically abuse her.”
He says that the fact that such a volume of people are openly sharing these views and levels of violent comments, shows just how far we still still have to go to improve deaf awareness in the UK. “Hearing people still can’t understand that you can criticise a person who happens to be deaf without bringing their disability into it,” he says frustrated.
While Love Island’s team have condemned the trolling of any Islander this year, says O’Dell, he’s adamant that that does not go far enough: “They must issue a statement to viewers immediately, condemning the ableist abuse of Tasha in the strongest possible terms.”