August 21, 2015 - Comments Off on Building The Capacity to End Online Harassment
The Internet has, in a short period of time, become a vital part of our lives. With it we are able to gain access to a dizzying amount of knowledge resources, which provide people with valuable skills and information that can enrich their lives. However, there is also a dark side to this technology. Access to information has also led to the growth of often pervasive forms of digital and offline harassment against women. Personal data will be leaked or hacked into, to try to force women offline, to stop their voices being heard, or even to instigate violence against them. According to the Federal Investigation Agency’s National Response Centre for Cyber Crime, 3027 cybercrime cases were reported in the period between August 2014 and 2015 - 45% of which were related to cyber-harassment against women and young girls via social media.
The cases that have reported are just the tip of the iceberg, as many victims keep silent out of fear of losing access to internet technology or out of fear of being attacked again. By not tackling this head-on, we risk a situation where members of a vulnerable population, one that makes up over half the population of Pakistan, are denied essentially life-enhancing knowledge and tools. The state can, via social and government institutions, provide support and assistance to women of all ages from cyber-harassment, and to give them the vital skills necessary to defend themselves.
Digital Rights Foundation, Hamara Internet and the Punjab Commission on the Status of Women have joined together to help build and strengthen the capacity of the staff of the Punjab Women’s Helpline, so that they are effectively able to deal with cyber-harassment complaints, provide the assistance and support needed.