The modern Pakistan has revolutionized by providing more people an access to the internet to and that too at reasonable prices. Unfortunately, the people of Pakistan didn’t leave a chance to exploit this useful resource as well and used it as a mean of harassing other members of the society.
It is a sad truth but in Pakistan, most of the crimes go unreported let alone the crimes related to cyber harassment. For this reason, Digital Rights Foundation is taking measures to ensure that people can access the internet without any fear of being harassed.
Nighat Dad, a recipient of Human Rights Tulip award, founded the DRF. The organization has launched the first ever online harassment helpline in the country while preserving the identity of the victim on his/her demand.
According to Dad, the purpose behind this helpline is to provide a platform to all those women who find it difficult to file a complaint against their harassers. The authorities and the internet companies also play an important role in fighting this abysmal crime.
The Need to Report Cyber Harassment Cases
During the first panel discussion, many women shared their experiences of online harassment publicly or privately and emphasized the need for reporting the crime. Some of the prominent people present included Tooba Syed who belongs to Awami Workers Party and Yusra Amjad who happens to be one of the names behind Girls at Dhabas.
Activist Zoya Rehman and Ufna Amir who is a representative of the Internet Society were also present. All of them talked about the importance of women voicing their problems and not remaining silent anymore. Rehman went on to say, “ Women are taught to remain silent. But we should have the courage to speak. We must realize that harassment is a reality, whether offline or online.”
Understanding the Digital Space
The second session talked about understanding the digital space because quite a few people in Pakistan are actually familiar with digital rights and more awareness needs to be created on this matter. On an international level, independent organizations are trying to make web literature a part of the curriculum.
Dad mentioned Qandeel Baloch in her discussion and how she used the internet to reclaim herself. Unfortunately, she was killed in the name of honor like many other women in Pakistan. “She was one of those women who do not use the standards set by the society,” She further added, “Qandeel’s murder shows the hypocrisy of our mainstream and social media.”
The guests talked about the gender discrimination against women when it came to honor killing and cyber bullying. Filmmaker/Journalist Haseeb Khawaja suggested that the communication gap hinders the laws from being implemented the right way.
Countering Cyber Threats
The last discussion was about coming up with a solution for all the problems related to cyber harassment. Humara Internet Helpline, the first ever in Pakistan for combating cyber harassment cannot function properly without any external help. Nighat Dad added, “We have learnt a lot from FIA’s cyber-crime wing, and we need to make sure that our network is strengthened so that the complaints are effectively redressed.”
The session came to an end with the messages of empowering women so that their participation in the economic growth is not hindered, educating children to use the internet carefully, and strengthening the present institutions of the government.
- hamara-internet-helpline: hamara internet org