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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.

December 17, 2012 - Comments Off on DAY 11 | STRATEGIES TO BE SAFE | WHAT WOULD YOU DO?


blur ! image“The past summer I had gone on a cruise with a close friend. She and I met two brothers, who had taken an interest in us. After much dancing and drinking together, I began to feel sick. One of the brothers helped me back to my cabin, taking care of me as I became almost physically impaired. I eventually passed out.

I awoke naked, on top of bloodied sheets. At some point while I was unconscious, the brother who had accompanied me back to my cabin had sex with me.

I did not see or hear from him again until months later in early October. He had somehow figured out my last name and found me on Facebook. He messaged me, calling me "trouble" and a "slut." He said if he was ever in the town that I attend school, he would be sure to come up to "rub in my face."

His message forced me into reliving the event I had tried to erase from my mind. It caused problems with me and my current boyfriend, but most of all it had frightened me. Facebook allowed him to track me down, and make abusive and threatening comments to me. He abused this online technology, causing me even more pain than he already had.” – Story from Charlottesville, USA


blur blur, by bsdfm“It’s been a month since I have been receiving nasty mean text messages, death threats and rape threats. I was also being watched. Whenever I receive a text its either they say that they are watching me or following me. Its becoming more scary everyday.

The problem is I dont know who is those people who send those text messages.
It started when my fiance was supposed to be promoted but he decided to un renew his contract. Then lost of things popped out. Some people harassing me on facebook then now on text messages.

We really have no idea who is the one behind it. But my fiance have a list who could probably do it. As much as I want to file a case I cant do anything because I have no proof on such person.

I tried to contact the network company if they can help me regarding my case. But they just said the person who sends me those text is using a prepaid and they cannot do anything about it.” – Story from Philippines


These are stories and experiences shared by women, girls and activists on the Take Back the Tech! map. As part of our effort to build awareness, advocate for recognition and justice for technology-related violence against women, we have been calling for the documentation, mapping and sharing of cases and experiences of harassment, stalking, threats and violence that women and girls face online, or through the use of internet and mobile technologies.

In most places in the world, there are no adequate laws that recognise this issue, and those who face such violence have little place to turn to for help. Police are unsure of how to help when it is not specifically recognised as a breach of law. Companies like mobile phone providers and social networking platform providers don’t see this as part of their responsibility. Women’s rights organisations working on violence against women increasingly have to respond to the role of things like Facebook and SMS messages in the cases that they receive, with the need for more capacity building and analysis.

Each experience is different. At the same time, there are some aspects of each story that resonates with our own knowledge and experience.

How can we share what we know to help provide support and make online spaces safer?

How have you dealt with SMS harassers in the past, and what seemed to work?

What do you do to increase the privacy and safety of your social networking spaces?

Is there a strategy that you follow on what to share and what not to share online?

One of the most important ways to address violence against women online is to build our knowledge and skills on how to use internet and mobile technologies more safely. Share your strategies and support!

  • Read the stories and cases on the Take Back the Tech! map
  • Post your thoughts on how to deal with the situation as a comment. Share your experience or knowledge.
  • Share useful resources on online safety and privacy on the Take Back the Tech! Facebook page or tweet us [@takebackthetech #takebackthetech]
  • Start by checking out the “Be Safe” section of the campaign site, and find out more about how internet and mobile technology works, the risks, and what you can do to be safer.

Take Back the Tech! Share your stories and strategies for safety.


From Take Back the Tech!