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ISLAMABAD: A four-hour training session on digital safety for women journalists was held here on Monday.

Nighat Dad, a digital safety expert, briefed the participants on how to secure social websites and internet browsing.

The training was organised by Freedom Network, a Pakistan-based media and development sector watchdog, working for the safety of journalists.

The purpose of the training was to improve the awareness and ability of women journalists, media workers and students to take digital safety precautions and lead safer online lives.

Laila Laghari, Programme Coordinator at Freedom Network, told Dawn that under the project they have so far conducted five training programmes.

There would be total 12 training programmes under the projects.

“We are imparting training to women journalists as well female journalism students so they could make sure their digital security before entering the field, which is considered one of the most dangerous fields in Pakistan.”

The training session covered digital safety measures, online harassment, cyber stalking and cyber bullying.

The participants were told how they could make their browsing and social networking safe and protected. In the beginning, the participants shared with each other the experience of working as journalists and digital harassment if they faced.

Nighat Dad told Dawn that such training programmes were very important for women journalists as they have to face harassment more than their male colleagues.

She said: “Being a female journalist in Pakistan is not an easy task. The women not only get online abuse but also face professional jealousy within their own organisations as male colleagues try to bring them down and dominate the space.

“Therefore, such trainings for them are essential so they could make sure their digital security.”

She said there was also a need for training sessions addressing the issues of legal remedies for cyber stalking as there was no awareness if a woman faced digital harassment what channel she could approach to get justice.

Shazia Mehboob, a journalist, said: “This was a good opportunity to learn digital safety. I learned many steps to make my browsing and Facebook secure. All women especially journalists should know about digital safety because we cannot ignore the importance of these apps in this modern age.

“Women journalists are more vulnerable to gendered violence or harassment. However, preventive measures could save them from many problems.”

Published in Dawn, March 21st, 2017