Cyber harassment complaints surged during lockdown: report

Published June 4, 2020
Seventy-four per cent of the complaints registered in March and April were reported by women. — AFP/File
Seventy-four per cent of the complaints registered in March and April were reported by women. — AFP/File

KARACHI: The Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) has reported a 189 per cent increase in complaints registered with its Cyber Harassment Helpline during Pakistan’s coronavirus lockdown.

“As Pakistan entered its lockdown [in March] in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, we feared there would be an increase in cyber harassment cases as well as cyber attacks in general,” a press release issued on Wednesday by the not-for-profit organisation said.

The organisation, which works to ensure digital freedoms in the country, reported a combined 136 complaints of cyber harassment in March and April — during the lockdown — compared to 47 such complaints, an increase of 189pc, before the lockdown in January and February.

Seventy-four per cent of the complaints registered in March and April were reported by women, whereas, men and non-binary persons registered 19pc and 5pc complaints, respectively.

A majority of the cases that the organisation’s cyber harassment helpline received during the lockdown months “pertained to blackmailing through non-consensual sharing of information, intimate pictures and videos”.

Complaints of hate speech, phishing, fake profiles and defamation were also reported, according to DRF.

Women in Pakistan are victims of forms of gendered violence in the digital sphere that includes sexual harassment, surveillance, unauthorised use and dissemination of personal data, and manipulation of personal information, the organisation said.

The DRF also released a list of recommendations for policy makers and law enforcement.

“These [recommendations] cover issues of the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) accessibility especially during the pandemic, and also how technology needs to be used hand in hand while dealing with digital harassment cases, like allowing for video testimonies,” it said.

Published in Dawn, June 4th, 2020

Opinion

Giving charity
06 Aug 2021

Giving charity

Charity must not be doled out in an insulting manner.

Editorial

06 Aug 2021

Refugee debate

WITH a peaceful settlement to the Afghan conflict looking increasingly remote, there are valid fears of a new ...
06 Aug 2021

Police sacrifices

THE country observed a special day on Wednesday to pay homage to members of the police force who sacrificed their...
Desecration of temple
06 Aug 2021

Desecration of temple

The govt must ensure, that those involved in vandalising the temple, and those who instigated them, are punished under the law.
A tragic anniversary
Updated 05 Aug 2021

A tragic anniversary

Attempts to change IOK's demography should end and India must open channels with the genuine Kashmiri leadership.
05 Aug 2021

Currency pressure

THE increasing demand for dollars in the wake of surging imports and debt repayments has put significant pressure on...
05 Aug 2021

Protecting breastfeeding

A LOT has been said about the fact that 40pc of children under five years in Pakistan are stunted. The reasons...