Archives for April 2019

April 26, 2019 - Comments Off on Flirting vs Harassment: How To Spot the Difference

Flirting vs Harassment: How To Spot the Difference

A playful text message. A quick side hug. Staring from across the room.

The line between flirting and harassment is thin and often a blurred one.  What could feel good to one person may be an unwelcome act to another. How would you spot the difference between the two? The answer is summed up in one word - consent.

Sexual Harassment as a term is commonly defined as requests for sexual favours, unwelcome sexual advances, or even any physical or verbal conduct of a sexual nature in public, at the workplace or anywhere else.

Any act without consent would be considered as harassment and any sexual activity without consent is considered as sexual assault. An activity whether casual or sexual requires consent  and the level of comfort and its extent should be clearly communicated or else there could exist a possibility of it qualifying as a a form of harassment.

Harassment is degrading, demeaning, unwanted and often has a power dynamic involved .  There is no grey area when it comes to consent and an affirmative. Enthusiastic and specific answer is the way to follow . Yes is yes and no is a clear no.  Consent should be explicit and there should be no room for assuming that the other person feels the same way as the other. No assumptions should be made regarding consent and it is essential for it to be clear cut and explicit.

What positive consent looks like:

- An affirmative “yes” or “I am okay with this”
- Clearly communicating and asking “Would you agree/be ok to this?”
- Consent is without any sort of threat, intimidation, fraud or violence
- Has boundaries which are well defined and very specific

What consent does not look like:

- Pressuring someone or constantly insisting to welcome any advances even when the other person says no or looks uncomfortable
- Assuming that yes once is a yes every time
- Being in a committed relationship with  someone doesn’t mean you have their consent forever and on everything

Always remember that consent is always offered by the person’s own free will and without any  influence of anything and/or anyone.

Take consent as FRIES

F- Freely Given , R- Reversible , I- Informed, E- Enthusiastic, S- Specific

If you feel pressured into sharing your pictures and doing acts which make you feel uncomfortable and you need any advice or are feeling distressed, you can call on the Cyber Harassment Helpline on 0800-39393 from 9AM to 5PM.

Written by: Asma Parvez

April 24, 2019 - Comments Off on What Gender Based Bullying Looks Like in Pakistan

What Gender Based Bullying Looks Like in Pakistan

The Pakistani society is strictly hierarchical – power and control structured around various factors including gender, race, religion and sexual orientation. This hierarchy eventually manifests itself in online spaces as well. It then reproduces and exerts the power and control over women and minorities through technology. Technological advances and the growing use of the internet has nevertheless provided us with many opportunities to have our voices heard and stories shared beyond physical space. However, it has also resulted in the same online platforms becoming a medium for men to bully, harass, humiliate, attack, shame and silence women.

One of the cases of technology-facilitated gender based violence and bullying that we came across at our Cyber Harassment Helpline was of a girl who was targeted by a group of men online. The complainant joined a Facebook group of sport fans where she would actively engage just like any other member. The group was male dominated who started to bully her in the comments section for having an interest in sports– a stereotypically men’s interest. They trolled and abused her with gender based slurs intending to “show her the space she belongs to i.e. kitchen and/or fashion”.

However, the bullying did not stop here. They stalked her Facebook profile and not only attacked her with lewd comments and messages but also started posting her pictures in the same group with sexually offensive captions.This ordeal went on for several days and took a serious toll on the complainant’s mental health which led to her deactivating her Facebook account.

The cultural factor of toxic and hegemonic masculinity took no time in seeping into the online spaces and neither did the stereotypical gender norms and expectations. Even though the offline culture of a society shapes its online culture, but the repercussions of online bullying or harassment can be equally traumatizing and have the tendency to translate into an offline threat. This creates a vicious cycle of violence against women curtailing their visibility in online spaces.  The power dynamics in these spaces make them a lot less safer for women, however, in today’s day and age, cutting oneself from internet means cutting oneself from the opportunities and knowledge that the world brings.

Written by: Maria Arshad


April 24, 2019 - Comments Off on DRF released its report on ‘Female journalists in new media: experiences, challenges and a gendered approach’

DRF released its report on ‘Female journalists in new media: experiences, challenges and a gendered approach’


Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) has launched its report on the gendered, online harassment that female journalists face in the media and how this resonates in their offline spaces in the report titled, ‘Female Journalists in new media: Experiences, challenges and a gendered approach’. The report aims to generate a much needed debate around the problems that women journalists face in the new media and how they often have to take a step back from the media due to their vulnerable position in the field.
The report records the experiences of female journalists in a qualitative manner in order to understand the kind of harassment and intimidation women face in the digital platforms due to their work. It also explains how online violence of female journalists translates into offline violence. The report talks about how there are numerous issues that women face in their field like trivialization of gendered issues by their male counterparts and limited support from media houses and institutions.
Highlighting the findings of the report, DRF’s Executive Director, Nighat Dad, notes that “It is extremely hard for women in the media to move ahead in their careers due to the gendered harassment that they face both in the online and offline spheres. Women are often the subject of criticism in the field and they are usually judged on their looks and clothing as compared to the work they do.” She adds that, “The first step towards trying to eradicate this problem of online harassment of female journalists is acknowledging that due to the emergence and more usage of digital platforms for journalism, women are subjected to gendered harassment online, as opposed to their male counterparts”.

DRF celebrates International Women’s Day


On this International Women’s Day, March 8th, DRF joined Free Press Unlimited and media professionals around the world to take part in Move4Women; a global movement to show solidarity and take action in support of women in the media. To celebrate the women in the media and highlight the importance of gender equality in the media, DRF’s friends and members of the Network of Women Journalists took pictures holding posters that had captions supporting the cause. The pictures were compiled in a video and were uploaded on DRF’s social media accounts. Today and every day, DRF and its friends strive for equality of women in the media. Click here to see the video.
Also, on International Women’s Day, some of the employees of DRF also took part in the Aurat March Lahore on an individual level. Hundreds of women, including members of DRF, took to the streets in Lahore to reclaim public spaces, celebrate the struggle and movement of Pakistani women and fight for their fundamental human rights.
Among other things, the women pushed for economic justice, implementation of labour rights, access to a fair justice system, reproductive justice, rights of religious minorities, promotion of an anti-war agenda and gender equality in political participation. The March was followed by overpowering performances by talented women.

DRF acknowledged by the Foreign Minister of Pakistan on International Women’s Day

On International Women’s Day, which is celebrated every year on 8th March, the Foreign Minister of Pakistan released a message acknowledging the efforts of women in Pakistan from all walks of life. The message states that despite the social and economic challenges, women of this country have carved destinies and have shaped the future of the globe and this very nation. Nighat Dad, the Executive Director of DRF, was also appreciated for her contributions to the society through her work at DRF.  Click here to read the full message.

Nighat Dad features on The Tempest’s list of ‘40 Women to Watch 2019’

DRF’s Executive Director, Nighat Dad, was featured in The Tempest’s list of ‘40 Women to Watch 2019’, which highlights extraordinary women and femmes making waves in their industries or passions of choice. Click here to view the article and have a look at other amazing women in the list.

DRF at Asia Liberty Forum 2019, Sri Lanka


A two-day conference, Asia Liberty Forum (ALF) 2019, was held in Colombo, Sri Lanka on 28th Feb and 1st March. The Forum brought together friends of the freedom movement across Asia to discuss challenges faced by the region and to learn from one another how to most effectively advance free-market reforms. Nighat Dad attended the conference and was part of the panel discussion called ‘Challenges to Privacy in the Digital World’, where the panelists gave an overview of the legal and policy frameworks and discussed the challenges facing privacy advocacy.

Nighat Dad at Pakistan in the Digital Age conference, London


On March 2nd, Nighat Dad spoke at a conference held by University College London on Pakistan in the Digital Age. A very interesting discussion took place in the context of women in the digital age, governance & policy and the economic challenges and opportunities. Ms. Dad talked about her work as an activist and the challenges she faces in this field. She also explained how she started working on issues relating to digital rights and the formation of the Digital Rights Foundation. She mentioned that when she was practicing law, she started looking into policies and legislations and found that there was nothing addressing the issues of online violence and harassment, especially for marginalized groups. That is how she started advocating for rights of people online. Geo News covered the conference. Click here to view the video.

The Role of Social Media in Journalism - a discussion on policy & regulatory context


Digital Rights Foundation (DRF), Media Matters for Democracy (MMfD) and DAI-Tabeer partnered to organize a roundtable discussion on the role of regulation and policy-making in digital, titled “The Role of Social Media in Journalism”. The event was held on March 20, 2019 in Islamabad. The roundtable was attended by new social media platforms as well as traditional media platforms, along with civil society groups and members of academia. Policymakers, including representatives from the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA), national Senate and political parties also attended the session. The aim was to foster a multi-stakeholder dialogue and generate policy-driven discussions around issues of online content regulation, media law and data protection.

Focus Group Discussion at Kinnaird College


In collaboration with Google, DRF held a focus group discussion with students of Kinnaird College, on the gendered aspect of online hate speech and aggression and the effects that moral policing and cyber stalking have on the female presence online.

Session at Bahria University


Digital Rights Foundation in partnership with UN women, conducted a session at Bahria University Islamabad. 95 undergraduate law students were in attendance. The discussion, which was kept as an interactive session, focused on harassment in general then streamlined into cyber harassment in specific, and a discussion of the prevalent laws and case laws.
The session was conducted by two trainers, one of whom was a lawyer and the other a clinical psychologist.

Session at Pakistan College of Law


Our Executive Director, Nighat Dad, conducted a session at Pakistan College of Law. The presentation included an introduction to cybercrimes and digital rights in Pakistan, as well as a comprehensive discussion on the various issues faced by victims of cybercrimes seeking justice. Since the session was designed for law students, the focus was primarily on the legal and procedural aspects of the existing laws, and prospective amendments in the area of cyber regulation. The session was attended by at least 90 students and remained an interactive discussion throughout.

DRF at Lahore Grammar School, Phase 1 DHA

school training

On March 22, DRF conducted a session at Lahore Grammar School, Phase 1 DHA branch on cyberbullying and digital rights. Representative of DRF, Ms. Jannat Fazal, talked about the rising cases of cyber harassment due to more usage of social media. She explained the students about digital rights and how they can take various measures to protect themselves in the online spaces.

Members of Network of Women Journalists for Digital Rights continued to pen blogs


Members of DRF's Network of Women Journalists for Digital Rights continued to share articles and blogs on digital rights issues which can be found on the Hamara Internet website here. The Network advocates for women and other minority groups to have safe access to online platforms, where they can exercise their constitutional right of free speech without facing constant threats. The Network members pen articles to document these threats, bring forward issues in the implementation of legislation to prevent and protect women journalists from gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment both online and offline and also advocate their access to effective remedies.