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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.