Archives for August 2019

August 28, 2019 - Comments Off on Women In Journalism

Women In Journalism

So it is a well-known fact that journalism isn’t the safest option one can choose. A journalist exposes his/her views to the public, thus exposing a part of themselves. Be it a small scale freelance journalist or a major famous journalist, these polarizing opinions produce differing opinions and fuel arguments. Of-course there are people who argue rationally, respecting other opinions but the problem occurs when respect is thrown out of the window. When journalists’ online presence threatens their very existence. The word ‘existence’ here can unfortunately be used both generally and specifically.

Specifically, when most of these journalists holding unorthodox views present their views over a medium, they almost always have to face serious threats to themselves and their loved ones. The threats range from cyber-bullying, cyberstalking, cyber-harassment and public shaming to murder threats and enforced disappearances. From 2012 to 2016, UNESCO reported the killing of 530 journalists, two per week. Unsurprisingly, 56% of these deaths happened in developing countries or countries experiencing military conflicts. Unfortunate examples like that of Jamal Khashoggi show us that the growth of internet has done no favor to the status quo. The Fifth Domain has just provided another medium for these threats to circulate through, effectively worsening the situation. 

Having taken a look at all of these issues, it will still not be unreasonable to suggest that being a woman in journalism is a completely different ball game. Obviously all the issues presented above still affect women that are present in the journalism industry. In that essence, I guess calling the situation of women a completely “different” ball game might not entirely be true. A better explanation could be that women face all the issues men have to go through and more. 

While men are criticized, threatened or attacked due to their beliefs, most of the time women don’t even get the luxury of having their opinions conveyed. Even at a platform where their voices are broadcasted, they are shunned for things completely unrelated to their journalistic abilities. Comments about their appearance, their clothes, the way they speak and the amount of make-up they wear (or don’t wear). Similarly, the threats made to women are much more severe and appalling, ranging from sexual harassment to rape threats. Women are called “whores” and threatened to be paraded naked in the streets as a “walk of shame” over the internet. In certain instances, the faces of these journalists are copied on to explicit and sometimes even pornographic images and shared around the internet as memes. The issue, however, will only get worse with the improvement in technology. The above mentioned problem has been made worse with the use of deep-fake technology, creating fake compromising videos which are becoming more and more believable every passing day. 

This campaign of character assassination is possible because of the idea that women are “easy targets”. From the very beginning, the society believes that women have to be non-confrontational, that they have to be passive, that they have to stay neutral to harassment. This difference between problems faced by men and the problems faced by women exist, and it is accompanied with tragic outcomes that usually involve violence against women and deterioration of physical and mental health of women.

The day criticism on both sides of the gender scale is homogenous, would be a day of incredible celebrations and joy.

Generally, however, these issues affect journalism on a whole. Women for these reasons have stopped covering or presenting their opinions on the internet. It has narrowed the scope of intellectual discussion. In many senses, journalism is what’s supposed to take a society forward. To provide a society new topics to debate over. To bring up ideas that haven’t been talked about before and spark up discussion, inviting opinions and getting through to the public. Journalism is not only supposed to spark a debate amongst the educated, but also educate the uneducated. All of this stops when we as a society stop inviting opinions. It stops when women are harassed on and off the internet for presenting their opinions, even worse, for just being a woman.   


Mohammad Owais Sabri is an Alevels student at LACAS

August 28, 2019 - Comments Off on 66 women’s rights, human rights, digital rights and feminists groups endorse statement on internet blackout in Kashmir

66 women’s rights, human rights, digital rights and feminists groups endorse statement on internet blackout in Kashmir

We, a coalition of 66 women's rights, human rights, digital rights and feminists groups, condemn in the strongest possible terms the blatant violation of the right to freedom of expression, access to information, movement and peaceful assembly by the Indian government through a blanket network and internet shutdown in Jammu and Kashmir since the evening of August 4, 2019. We believe that access to communication networks, including the internet, is a fundamental human right and the current media blackout is tantamount to silencing the voices of millions of residents in Jammu and Kashmir.

We recognise that the current situation is not an aberration, it is rather part of a systematic effort by the BJP-led government to silence and exclude dissent from the region: the current internet and network shutdown is part of larger pattern of regular shutdowns in the disputed region; in 2019 alone 51 internet shutdowns have been imposed in Jammu and Kashmir. The right to access communication networks is an important prerequisite to the exercise to other democratic and fundamental rights, the people of Jammu and Kashmir have been systematically denied these rights.

It worries us that the latest shutdown has been expanded to block all communication, landline phones and cable TV in addition to the internet. Since August 4, 2019 there has been a complete media blackout on information inside and outside the conflict-ridden valley, in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which has been ratified by India:

“Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”

The humanitarian impact of this blackout is palatable as family members have been unable to reach their loved ones inside Jammu and Kashmir. Freedom of movement has also severely restricted as curfew imposed under section 144 to stop movement during the day. These restrictions have thwarted the access basic services such as emergency medical care--the human cost of this blackout is immeasurable. Businesses in the region have suffered irreparable losses, devastating the local economy. 5,000 arrests have been made in a clampdown since the communications blackout started.

This communication blackout has been instrumentalized to remove a provision (Article 370) of the Indian Constitution that directly impacts the autonomy of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. We are extremely concerned that the pairing of the blackout with the passage of the constitutional amendment points towards a dangerous and draconian approach to democratic decision-making--the people of region cannot express their opinions regarding the decision and possibly have no way of knowing that the legal status of their home has drastically changed. We believe that communication networks during times of conflict and political turmoil are important to prevent further human rights violations and arbitrary measures. Given the excesses of the Indian army in the past, the lack of information and reporting from the region is extremely concerning.

We also condemn the uneven application of community guidelines and content regulation by social media companies such as Twitter to silence users critiquing the official narrative of the Modi-led Indian government and amplifying the voices of Kashmiris on the ground. According to estimates, more than 200 Twitter accounts have been suspended for posting about Kashmir. Furthermore notices have been sent to Twitter users for allegedly “violating the laws of India”. At a time when voices of people from the region are being systematically excluded, these suspensions and notices amount to gross negligence on the part of social media companies.

The United Nations has termed this communications blackout as “unprecedented”, “disproportionate” and constituting “collective punishment”. David Kaye, the UN’s special rapporteur on freedom of expression, stated: “I can’t recall a situation where there has been a total blackout of not only the two-way, multi-point communication systems that we are familiar with now – anything on the internet, WhatsApp etc – but also the one-direction communications like TV”.

We urge that urgent and strict action be taken by the international community to address the international law violations. We demand that the blanket ban on communication network be lifted with immediate effect. We stand in solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir in their legitimate struggle for the right to determination.

August 28, 2019


Asma Jahangir Legal Aid Cell (AGHS) 
ASR Resource Centre 
Association for Behavior and Knowledge Transformation (ABKT) 
Aurat Foundation
Aurat Haq
Aurat March Karachi
Aurat March Lahore
AwazFoundationPakistan: Centre for Development Services 
Balochistan Media Association
Beaconhouse National University Feminist Community
Bolo Bhi, Pakistan
Bonded Labour Liberation Front (BLLF) 
Center for Artificial Intelligence
Center for Cyber Security Pakistan 
Center for Cyber Security Pakistan 
Centre for Social Justice 
Christian Muslim Peace 
Combine FiOS
Courting the Law, Pakistan
Damen Support Programme
Digital Rights Foundation (DRF), Pakistan
Farmers Development Organization FDO Pakistan
Freedom Network 
Girls at Dhabas
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan 
Human Rights Defenders United for Digital Rights
Institute for Peace and Secular Studies 
Institute of Research, Advocacy and development (IRADA), Pakistan
Internet Policy Observatory Pakistan 
Internet Policy Observatory Pakistan 
Joint Action Committee 
Khwendo kor
Media Matters for Democracy 
Minorities Rights Watch 
Network of Women Journalists for Digital Rights
Omar Asghar Khan Foundation 
Pakistan Press Foundation 
Participatory Welfare Services - PWS
Participatory Welfare Services, Layyah
Peasants women society Pakistan 
Quetta City Live
Shirkat Gah - Women’s Resource Centre 
Social Action Transformation of Humanity (SATH Pakistan)
South Asia Partnership - Pakistan 
SPACE (Sufism for Peace & Co-existence)
Takhleeq Foundation

The Cecil & Iris Chaudhry Foundation (CICF)
The SAWERA Foundation 

War Against Rape (WAR), Lahore
Women Action Forum Hyderabad 
Women Action Forum Islamabad 
Women Action Forum Karachi 
Women Action Forum Lahore 
Women Democratic Front 
Women’s Regional Network
Youth Observatory Pakistan

International Organisations 

Afro Leadership Cameroon
Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE)
Freedom Forum Nepal
Internet Sans Frontières

August 5, 2019 - Comments Off on July 2019: DRF team and CFWIJ met with Minister of Human Rights regarding online harassment of journalists

July 2019: DRF team and CFWIJ met with Minister of Human Rights regarding online harassment of journalists


The DRF team, along with the Coalition For Women In Journalism (CFWIJ) met with the Minister of Human Rights, Shireen Mizari, to discuss online harassment and disinformation campaigns against journalists in Pakistan on July 11, 2019. The Minister was briefed on threats faced by journalists in online spaces and urged the Minister to take concrete steps to tackle them. The honourable Minister assured the delegation that steps will be taken soon, particularly in the form of a journalist safety bill. Click here to read more details about the meeting.

Tech Camp at Lincoln's Corner


         Soon  Soon

DRF conducted a one day workshop at Tech Camp in collaboration with Lincoln’s Corner with 25 students on 9th July. The training covered various topics like cyber harassment, fake news, gender and privacy, digital security and online safety. The fruitful session engaged with participants of the tech camp and also resolved their queries in how they view the current cybercrime legislation and the need for a data protection law in the country. Team DRF really enjoyed delivering the session with such an enthusiastic audience.

Hamara Internet Workshop with lawyers in Quetta, Peshawar and Islamabad

Workshop in Islamabad


Workshop in Peshawar


DRF team and participants at the end of the workshop in Quetta

DRF in collaboration with our partners FNF conducted the Hamara Internet workshop ‘Our Right to Safe Online Spaces’ in Quetta, Peshawar and Islamabad. The session in Quetta took place on the 3rd of July with journalists and lawyers focusing on the current cyber crime legislation, fake news and online safety. The session in Peshawar took place on 22nd July and in Islamabad on 24th July with lawyers focusing on the current cyber crime legislation, data protection, cyber harassment and online safety.

Internal office training on digital safety


DRF conducted an internal training on digital safety in the office. The session was a refresher for the team about the existing safety practices one should adopt on devices and on social media. The training also focused on the existing IT policy and how the policy can be improved ahead. The team expressed interest in conducting similar refresher training in the future.

Nighat Dad spoke on Aaj News regarding fake news

Nighat Dad spoke on Aaj News discussing the impact of fake news on individuals and how it can lead to possible defamation. Ms. Dad mentioned that if someone has been a victim of fake news, they can report it to the Federal Investigation Agency Cybercrime Wing, established in various cities across Pakistan, under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016. She also shed light on the fact that while there is a law, the majority of the people do not have any awareness regarding it or how to use the law in their favor. Click here to view the video.

Nighat Dad spoke about FaceApp on Samaa News

Nighat Dad spoke on Samaa News and expressed her concern over people using FaceApp, a Russia-based app which went viral in 2017 but this time it is catching on because of a filter that makes users look older or younger. She said that facial recognition is used by companies and governments across the world for different reasons and it is worrisome to see that the data of millions of users is being collected through an application, with no reference to where the data is collected and how it is being used. Click here to watch the video.

One-day digital safety training in collaboration with DCHD in Lahore


DRF in collaboration with Democratic Commission for Human Development (DCHD) organized a one-day digital security training for Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) on 12th July 2019 in Lahore. DRF was responsible for preparing and conducting the training according to the needs of the HRDs. The workshop was host to 24 HRDs and Child Rights Activists, who have been associated with DCHD through the Pakistan Human Rights Defender Network, Child Rights Education Program and other Human Rights Security trainings and programs.

One-day digital safety training in collaboration with Sindh Human Rights Defender Network

SoonDRF conducted a one-day digital safety training in Karachi with Sindh Human Rights Defender Network. The training was held on 15th July and the participants consisted of lawyers, journalists, HRDs etc. The aim of the training was to make the participants understand why and how they should protect themselves in the online world, since they use devices for their work even more now. The training was also intended to make participants capable of protecting their devices and their valuable data from any malicious activity offline or online.

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.


August 5, 2019 - Comments Off on A beginner’s guide to cybercrime and ways to ensure protection against it

A beginner’s guide to cybercrime and ways to ensure protection against it

What is cybercrime?

Cybercrime is defined as an activity in which a computer or other electronic networking device is involved in an illegal activity for pursuing financial or personal gain. A cyber criminal is someone who uses a digital device to gain access to a person’s personal information, confidential business information, government information or disable a device through illegal means among other activities. A majority of cases of cybercrime involve hacking and exploiting/blackmailing personal data of an individual or a company and selling/disseminating it online for financial or other reasons.

The types of cybercrime:

Under the new cybercrime law Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016, here are a list of cybercrime acts under the law marked as illegal:

  1. Unauthorized access to information system or data (PECA s.3)
  2. Glorification of an offence or encouraging that offence (PECA s.9)
  3. Coercing, intimidating, a sense of fear, panic and insecurity to ignite sectarian or ethnic hatred shall be punished with imprisonment for long term and a fine of 10 million rupees (s.10 of PECA)
  4. Use of internet services or software to defraud individuals or defame them (s.14 PECA)
  5. Intentionally spreading false information about a person which is known to be false and is exploiting the privacy and safety of the given individual (s.20 PECA)
  6. Intentionally and publicly exhibiting sensitive images and videos of an individual to harm their reputation or financial gain, blackmail, hatred shall punish the perpetuator with a jail term for 5 years or longer. (S.21 PECA)
  7. Intentionally producing, offering, or making available sexually explicit conduct of a minor without lawful justification (s.22, s.24 PECA)

A full copy of the cybercrime Act can be read here

How do you report cybercrime?

If you or an individual you know is facing harassment, intimidation or blackmail online, then here is a list of ways you can report to the authorities and bring the harasser to justice:

  1. Cyber harassment helpline by DRF: 0800-39393
  2. Register a complaint with your nearest cybercrime unit of the FIA (National Response Centre for Cyber Crime) by submitting a written application along with printed copies of evidence.
  3. The CPLC (Citizens Police Liaisons Committee) has set up a women’s complaint cell aimed at dealing with issues such as harassment, stalking and blackmail around the country. You can reach out to them using their phone number 1102, 021-35662222, 021-35682222.
  4. Madadgar National Helpline deals with helping women suffering from violence. You can reach out to their helpline service: (+92) 1098.
  5. If you are experiencing mental health issues due to online harassment you can seek psychological help at Rozan: 0800-22444.
Mahnoor jalal is currently doing her major in Liberal Arts from Beaconhouse National University