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May 20, 2023 - Comments Off on Digital Rights Foundation’s Helpline reports over 2500 Cases of Digital Harassment in 2022

Digital Rights Foundation’s Helpline reports over 2500 Cases of Digital Harassment in 2022

MAY 18, 2023: Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) has released its sixth annual Cyber Harassment Helpline Report for 2022. The Helpline completed six years of operations since its launch in December 2016. The Helpline has received a total number of 14,376 cases in the last six years. In 2022, it reported a total of 2695 new cases with an average number of 224 new cases received each month, November 2022 being the busiest month. 

The report is a compilation of the data from cases received by the Helpline through its toll-free number (0800-39393), which is available from Monday to Sunday, 9 am to 5 pm, and other services over email and DRF’s social media platforms. The report also contains case studies from Helpline callers and recommendations for policymakers and law enforcement agencies (LEAs).

The Cyber Harassment Helpline is the region's first dedicated helpline addressing online violence with gender-sensitive, confidential and free services. It provides legal advice, digital assistance and basic psychological assistance and offers a proper referral mechanism. In May, the Helpline expanded its operations to 7 days a week to cater to a growing number of requests over the weekend. Nighat Dad, Executive Director of DRF, noted, “In 2022 we saw a significant rise in cases of financial fraud, scam attempts and online smear campaigns against transgender activists and individuals in the country. The rise in digital hate speech against the transgender community pointed towards a worrying new trend of identity-based attacks.” 

Women were the highest reported victims of online harassment constituting 58.6% of complainants in 2022. The Helpline also noted that the transgender community was subjected to an orchestrated online hate campaign this year and made up approximately 1% of the complainants who reached out to us. The response, or lack thereof, by social media platforms, where the campaign was orchestrated, is another aspect of the trend. Hyra Basit, the helpline manager stated, ‘At the Helpline, we consider it our responsibility to advocate for the most vulnerable segments in society, and to this end, we made constant efforts to engage social media companies to explain the context within Pakistan and the harmful consequences of narratives that don’t fit neatly within the scope of community guideline violations’. 

The highest number of cases in 2022 were from Punjab (1712), followed by Sindh (354) and KPK (144). Geographical breakdown of the data helps in mapping the accessibility of law enforcement and other remedial resources. The FIA, which is the designated law enforcement agency under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA), has cyber crime wings in only 15 cities. While reports can be submitted through their helpline and online complaint form, feedback from multiple complainants shows that these methods are not reliable and the most efficient way to submit a complaint is through in-person complaints. Furthermore, the Helpline occasionally receives complaints from people outside Pakistan (106 in 2022), both Pakistani and non-Pakistani citizens, where the lack of physical presence or representative within the country to file a case with the FIA can be a challenge.

The report also includes a set of recommendations for policymakers and LEAs regarding online harassment cases in the country. For Policymakers, the report recommends addressing the existing digital gender divide in the country by removing financial, safety, and social barriers that women face when accessing digital devices and internet spaces. The report recommends FIA enhance its technical expertise by investing in a continuous capacity-building process in order to overcome the investigative delay in cybercrime complaints. Furthermore, regular gender sensitivity training be provided to officials of cyber crime wings. DRF also recommends investment in research at the cyber crime wings to cater to the needs of the litigants and complainants.

Digital Rights Foundation is a registered research-based NGO in Pakistan. Founded in 2012, DRF focuses on ICTs to support human rights, inclusiveness, democratic processes, and digital governance. DRF works on issues of online free speech, privacy, data protection and online violence against women.

For more information log on: 




Contact Person:

Hyra Basit - Cyber Harassment Helpline Manager

[email protected]

Nighat Dad - Executive Director

[email protected]

May 9, 2023 - Comments Off on April 2023 Newsletter: Digital 50.50 Edition on Innovation and Technological Change for Achieving Gender Equality in the Digital Age

April 2023 Newsletter: Digital 50.50 Edition on Innovation and Technological Change for Achieving Gender Equality in the Digital Age

digital 50.50

Digital 50.50 feminist e-magazine Edition 1 on Innovation & Technological Change for achieving gender equality in the digital age is now live on our website.

Policy Initiatives

Nadra launches ‘Ijazat Ap Ki’ Service by Zainab Durrani

DRF's new blog post reviews the newly launched 'Ijazat Ap Ki' service by Nadra and how it works. According to news coverage 'Ijazat ap ki' is a service which will be using a one-time password (OTP) to collect the authorization of the individual before verification of their Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC). The development of the app and safeguarding the rights of Pakistani citizens in digital spaces, especially through data privacy, is a positive first step  and one that must be accompanied by the principles of transparency and accountability by Nadra. We'd also like to acknowledge Chairperson Tariq Malik and Nadra for being forthcoming about the app & we reiterate the need for data protection legislation in the country. DRF will continue to monitor the developments under this new service & state of privacy in the country.

Read the blog here:
Feminist Approaches to Digital Safety: Perspective from the Global South

DRF’s Shmyla Khan wrote about Feminist Approaches to Digital Safety: Perspective from the Global South'.

Link to blog:
Analyzing Content Regulation and Model of the Council of Complaints of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA)

DRF published an analysis of PEMRA’s regulations, particularly in light of the C.P. No.3506 of  2020, PEMRA etc vs ARY Digital judgment by the Supreme Court this month authored by Justices Mansoor Ali Shah and Ayesha Malik on the composition of the Council of Complaints, process of decision-making within PEMRA and powers of regulating broadcast content.

Access here.

DRF partners with organizations across South Asia on Gendered Disinformation Project

DRF partnered with other organizations for a project of documenting gendered disinformation in South Asia as part of the Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI) Knowledge for Action to End Violence Against Women and Violence Against Children Research Grant 2023. DRF will be working with lead organization Meedan for the project which will focus on weaponization of false information and narratives to silence and target women and gender minorities across South Asia.

Press Coverage

Digital rights activist makes Pakistan’s presence felt at democracy summit

DRF’s Nighat Dad speech from the democracy summit was featured at Dawn News. She emphasized the importance of margnalized groups being included in conversations online.

Read the full piece here:
DRF’s Irum Shujah speaking about Digital Right’s Foundation’s scope of work and impact

DRF’s Irum Shujah spoke to Sophie Flemming from Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD) in a short online interview wherein she spoke about Digital Rights Foundation’s scope and its subsequent impact. The prevailing issue of digital crimes and cyber harassment in Pakistan were discussed. The interview also entailed introduction of the DRF’s Cyber Harassment Helpline and its role in helping survivors of the crimes committed in cyber spaces.

Online Campaigns


This Girls in ICT Day let's aim to ensure greater access of girls to digital devices and the internet to ensure gender equality on Hamara Internet and offline spaces.

Twitter Space &  launch of Digital 50.50 magazine on Innovation & Technological change for achieving gender equality

DRF’s Network of Women Journalists for Digital Rights (NWJDR) took part in our twitter space & launch of our latest edition of the Digital 50.50 magazine on Innovation & Technological change for achieving gender equality.

Listen to the conversation here:


Always make sure to sell or exchange your items in a public setting and avoid being alone.????

☎️ You can contact our Cyber Harassment Helpline for further queries at 0800-39393, [email protected] or on our socials.

International Health Day

This International Health Day we'd like to highlight our work on Data Privacy in Pakistan's Healthcare Sector and why it's important.

Here's our findings on Data Privacy in the healthcare sector:

#HealthForAll #WHO75


TED Conference 2023

DRF’s Nighat Dad attended the annual Ted Conference at e West Coast of North America, the TED Conference. The conference was attended by more than a thousand people attend for five-days discussing Technology, Entertainment and Design -- as well as science, business, the arts and the global issues facing our world. There were over 70 speakers on the main stage to give talks and shorter presentations, including music, performance and comedy.

Technology Facilitated Gender Based Violence (online event)

DRF’s Nighat Dad spoke in an online webinar with the International Feminist Legal Network (IFLN)  on technology-facilitated gender-based violence.

Disinformation, Censorship and Eternal Search For Truth

DRF’s Nighat Dad spoke at the International Journalism Festival at Perguia Italy on how to tackle online disinformation in post-truth world. #ijf23

DRF Talk at Accountability Lab’s #ackCorruption Hackathon

Project Manager Zainab Durrani virtually addressed the participants at the second #ackCorruption Hackathon organized by Accountability Lab Global in Nepal on the 28th of April 2023. The theme of the conversation was around the concept of ‘Digital citizenship to constrain corruption’ where Ms. Durrani highlighted the importance of using technology to build the anti-corruption movement.

She also spoke about the open data and open governance movements and underscored the importance of transparency as the key element in eradicating corrupt practices and systems.

The talk was attended by participants from Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan who had been brought together for the 3-day event to brainstorm and present their ideas on tackling the epidemic of corruption in the region.

DRF Updates

Cyber Harassment Helpline

The Cyber Harassment Helpline received 182 complaints in April, with most cases being around financial fraud. If you’re encountering a problem online, you can reach out to our helpline at 0800-39393, email us at [email protected] or reach out to us on our social media accounts. We’re available for assistance from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Sunday.

IWF Portal

DRF in collaboration with Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) and the Global Fund to End Violence Against Children launched a portal to combat children’s online safety in Pakistan. The new portal allows internet users in Pakistan to anonymously report child sexual abuse material in three different languages- English, Urdu, and Pashto.

Meta along with Revenge Porn Helpline (RPH) has launched a portal to support victims of Non-Consensual Intimate Image Abuse (NCII). NCII is a free portal for reporting cases of sensitive or sexual content existing online. Once you report a case, the necessary steps will be taken to block the images from the platform.