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September 4, 2014 - Comments Off on DRF condemns the gang rape of two women in Faisalabad

DRF condemns the gang rape of two women in Faisalabad

Online Abuse

In an age where a person’s hard-earned reputation can easily be destroyed with the click of a button, one doesn’t need to hire an assassin to do the job. This is what happened when the rape of a young girl was being filmed by the rapists and the film is threatened to be uploaded online if the girl tries to tell anyone. First you rob a woman’s soul, and then you take away her voice too. Digital Rights Foundation has been campaigning for the last few years  to make women who suffer such abuse speak out against it and stand up against online sexual exploitation.

Women in Pakistan have also been susceptible to legal manipulation simply because of political inertia. Many of the laws designed during the time of President Zia-ul-Haq like the Zina Ordinance hugely favored the men, but have continued to be wrongly justified in the name of Islam ever since. A woman’s report of her rape in a police station is taken as her confession of adultery, and she is given the death sentence. But the man escapes free. There are hardly any legal remedies in Pakistan that women can subscribe to. They are not allowed to use their right to divorce in many courts even though they have been allowed to use it by their religion. Women are also not given much protection under statutory law and are rather victimized more often than not than being treated as the victim. Unfortunately, women suffer the same lack of protection online that they do offline.

With its latest campaign ‘Hamara Internet’, DRF aims to protect women against cyber abuses amongst its many other objectives. The Internet should not be a place where nothing is private anymore, but a place where an internet user can protect his privacy and yet have absolute freedom to enjoy the resources available due to an open web. With social networks like Facebook & Twitter and video sharing platforms like YouTube quickly turning any popular content viral, it needs to be ensured that such content does not make something public anything that promotes violence.

Recent digital security breaches have confirmed just how vulnerable the Internet is. With Facebook accounts routinely hacked in Pakistan, women and young girls  are the most vulnerable internet users and often made to suffer from cyber abuse with their private pictures being photoshopped deceptively into erotic poses and sometimes even total nudity.  Women, especially in a closed and patriarchal society like Pakistan, need to be aware how they can protect themselves against heinous cyber abuses.

Many people see restricting the access to the Internet as the only solution . They only need to ask themselves one question first; when their body gets dirty, do they go take a shower and wash their body or do they dig up their grave and bury themselves? We can’t criticize the medium for the fault of its users. This is what DRF aims to achieve with its campaign ‘Hamara Internet’ - ‘Our Internet’, The web Pakistani women want - an Internet for everyone to freely enjoy and take benefit of equally irrespective of whether they are men or women.



Meet Betty, a young woman from Morelos, Mexico. Her story speaks about the different connections and interactions that she encounters through online social networking – some of them expected and welcomed, some of them a little less straightforward. It’s also about how Betty exercises her judgment and discretion in dealing with them.

How do you exercise your judgment and right to privacy in online social networking spaces?

Access to and use of social networking services like Facebook is increasingly an important aspect of participating in public and political life. We have heard many recent examples of how social networking platforms have become valuable sites of social and political mobilizing and democratic participation. At a more personal level, they are becoming an important part of how we interact and connect with our communities. They can also be a space for us to construct representations of our “selves” through the things we share, including photographs, what we do, interests and personal information. For women and girls who are constrained in other spaces because of culture or norms, this can be especially important.

At the same time, there are certain safety risks when it comes to social networking sites. Because of the wealth of personal information available, it can be possible to make assessments about a particular person and target them for specific reasons. For example, based on what a person shares about her employment situation, or her relationship status, she can be targeted for financial scams involving fake employment and migration opportunities or “romantic relationships”. In countries such as Mexico where human trafficking is recognised as a serious issue, women’s rights activists are critically assessing the role of social networking sites in targeting potential victims.

How can we participate in shaping a social networking environment that enables us to fully participate in community and public life, without compromising our safety? How can our right to privacy be prioritised – from the development of technology, to corporate policy, to laws, to our own practices?



  • Take a dive into fine-tuning your privacy configuration in Facebook.  Segment your friends into lists and learn how to specify which audience you want for each post.
  • Play tech-tag: you show a friend how to improve her privacy settings, and ask her to share with another friend.
  • Together, bring the conversation to your social networking forums: What do we love about them, and what turns us off or away?
  • Share some stories and experiences about social networking spaces and privacy, and map them onto the Take Back the Tech! Map.


  • Find out more about trafficking in your country. You can start with the International Migration Organisation.
  • If you think it is not happening, you are wrong. And you can bet traffickers are taking advantage of social networking platforms to find women and girls who "fit their profile".
  • Understanding and sharing how traffickers operate debilitates their chances of success.


Take Back the Tech! in Mexico took the November 25 "Festival de las vivas" fair-goers to the test, putting up banners with "quizzes" to test internet safety practices and detect tech-related violence against women and girls. Facebook awareness campaigns via flyers and radio spots share tech-tips, like: "Have a sexy photo you just have to share? Then segment your Facebook friends into lists first".

Surveys on tech-related violence are being applied at youth workshops and cine debates throughout Morelos.   Virtual activities include online daily actions to increase digital security for women journalists and human rights defenders, reaching 100's of women throughout Mexico and Central America. The campaign will close this year  with a tech-fest on mobile security for women journalists and social communicators.

Take Back the Tech! partners in Mexico include youth sexuality and reproductive health activists, DDESER; anti-cyberbullying and child pornography initiative Social 2.0 for A Safer Internet; CIMAC women's news agency and network of journalists, and women human rights defenders throughout Mexico and Central America.