30 August, 2014 / Ziqa'ad 3, 1435

PESHAWAR, Jun 29: Speaker at a workshop said here on Wednesday that women in closed societies could use internet and communication technology without getting out of the four walls of their homes to end violence against them.

The workshop on digital security for women with special perspective to end violence against women was organised by Intermedia, a media training and capacity building organisation.

Speakers said that women were using internet and social networks more than men. “Women should take control of internet and communication technology to propagate their rights and their point of view,” they added.

Shehzad Ahmed from Bytes for All, in his presentation and interactive sessions, let the participants speak freely about security concerns and issues related to use of internet, their lack of understanding of some of the internet options and safe use of social networks.

He told the participants about changing passwords and switching over to pass-phrases to ensure digital security.

During the workshop most of the university students raised concerns about cyber-stalking and harassment. They said that images of girls were posted on internet without their knowledge or consent.

Mr Ahmed told them how data could be retrieved from computers, cellular phones and cameras when the owner thought it had been deleted. The same data was sold by hackers to other websites, he said. More than 40,000 such stolen photos were posted at one porn website without the knowledge of the girls.

“Trust no one,” advised the trainers, giving some tips about how to secure data on computer by downloading secure search engines and tools.

Nighat Dar, a lawyer and expert on governance issues, said that cyber law was formulated in 2007 and lapsed in 2009. So presently there were no laws to control cyber crimes, she said.

However, there are some laws like Telegraph Act 1885, Wireless Telegraph Act 1933, FIA Act 1974 and others which can be used to control such crimes.

“Women should save any intimidating SMS or email as evidence if they ever face harassment through emails or phones,” she added. She gave away PTA's helpline number (0800-55055) to the participants in case of such cases of harassment or crank calls.

Ms Dar also criticised educational institutions specially universities, which had not implemented the harassment policy. The University of Peshawar and other universities should have set up complaint cells where a harassment victim could go for help, she said while referring to the recent allegations of sexual harassment on the campus.

Adnan Rehmat, head of Intermedia, gave an in-depth presentation on the right to privacy in real life and in online life. He said that UN Declaration of Fundamental Rights 1948 and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966, signed by Pakistan this year, ensured that everyone had a right to privacy.

In digital age, due to globalisation and removal of technological barriers between systems, everyone's privacy has been affected.

“Don't do anything online that you wouldn't do in the real life. It is as simple as that to ensure digital security,” he said.

The workshop ended with a call to everyone to take control of information and communication technologies and use it to create more space for freely expressing opinions and sharing thoughts to end violence against women.


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