Asra Q. Nomani
10 min readDec 25, 2022

Originally published at the New York Times’ Women in the World.

Woman changed law to fight anonymous harassers on the Internet

When the law prevented Andaleeb “Andi” Geloo from taking legal action against her Internet bullies, she changed the law

by Asra Q. Nomani

Originally published July 30, 2015

On January 14, 2013, Andaleeb Geloo, a friendly and charismatic attorney at the Fairfax County Courthouse in Virginia, outside of Washington, D.C., got a shocking phone call from a recent client. Raised in the United States by immigrant parents from Pakistan, she had a stellar career and was well-liked by colleagues, who called her “Andi” and nicknamed her “the sweetheart of the courthouse.” She had graduated in the top 10 percent of her law school class at George Washington University in 2003 with high honors and academic awards, then launched a successful law firm.

But her client warned her that on a community website, FairfaxUnderground, anonymous users had posted vile, disparaging comments about Geloo’s sexuality, legal practice and physique, essentially “slut shaming” and “fat shaming” her. (Not that it mattered, but she was athletically fit.) The attorney initially ignored the warning. Then, days later, while representing clients at the Fairfax County Courthouse, she heard whispers about “the Geloo posts.” That night, she huddled over a computer and dared to open the FairfaxUnderground website. “I was compelled to look,” she says.

She was stunned by the vitriol hurled against her. About a week earlier, the client had written a favorable review about Geloo representing him well in court on a driving violation. About 20 minutes later, an anonymous writer using the ID “BEH” responded: “I hope you kill Andi and yourself in the fiery crash that you will inevitably cause.” Hours later, “Tea Baggins,” a sexual reference to a man putting his testicles into a sexual partner’s mouth, wrote, “This thread is useless without pictures of Andi.” The verbal assaults continued relentlessly for days.

User “Bang Bros,” using the name of a Miami-based porn film production company, chimed in, asking, “So … did you give Andi the old boosh kadoosh.” A user posted, “Andi Geloo — Bullshit Artist,” and “Andi Fan” responded to the “Tea Baggins” request…

Asra Q. Nomani

A writer, lay philosopher, cultural critic, media critic, dreamer. You can reach me at asra@asranomani.com. I’m on Twitter & Instagram @asranomani.