LAHORE: Speakers at a panel discussion on “Ending Digital Violence against Women” pointed out several gaps in implementation of cyber harassment laws.

The discussion was held at Lahore University of Management and Sciences by an online news outlet on Thursday and panelists include MNA and Parliamentary Secretary for Law and Justice Mehnaz Akbar Aziz, PTI Senator Syed Ali Zafar, Pakistan Muslim League-N Senator Rana Maqbool, Punjab Cyber Crime Wing FIA Director Jahanzeb Nazir Khan and Digital Rights Foundation’s Shmyla Khan.

Ms Aziz said all women are abused no matter what socio economic class they are from. She said only those having connections in the FIA or law enforcement can get relief.

She also spoke about cases of honour killing only because of online profiles or content and said when it comes to Cyber crimes, parliament is at a basic level. We literally count on fingers the times women have a presence in decision making. It’s the same with bar associations, and other spheres. Women must stand up and be counted and we must stand up for each other in parliament.

Ms Khan said more than 15,000 complaints were received and more than half did not go to FIA.

“They say there is a lack of institutional trust. There is no community support and taking a case forward is a huge task.”

She said last year, they had more than 4,310 cases of online harassment and around 70pc of these were women and less than 50pc went on some legal stage.

“If they did go, evidence was not collected properly.”

Mr Zafar recounted a success story and said the law is there but there are lacunas and these should be filled and there is problem with its implementation.

He said the points including prevention, protection, legal system, investigation and redressal must be addressed to tackle cyber crime.

FIA Director Mr Nazir said society could not become better till it trusts and owns their institution.He said in terrorism cases, they would get speedy information but still there was a digital footprint and there was no conviction.

He said they would need information from different departments and there was no memorandum of understanding among the institutions and they would have to get information from third sources.

He said they have no idea what a huge issue cyber crime is. Crimes against women contribute to 7pc and most are corporate, ponzi schemes etc.

“We need cyber crime forensic equipment with skilled labour and we also need a locator of which we just have one in Punjab.”

The premiere of a documentary on “Fighting Back From the Digital Fringes” was also held.

conference: Caretaker Education Minister Mansoor Qadir says we should discuss such issues that could promote harmony and brotherhood in society.

He was speaking at the closing ceremony of the two-day AMCAP-PU international conference, “Revisiting the Relationship Between Journalism and Society in the Digital Age for the Common Good,” hosted by the Punjab University Department of Journalism Studies and the Institute of Education and Research at Faisal Auditorium.

Mr Qadir said journalists, academicians and students should play their roles in promoting the positive use of digital media to end hatred and discrimination in society.

He said measures were also necessary to curb such fake news that tarnishes the name of Pakistan.

Young students, according to PU Vice-Chancellor Dr Niaz Ahmed, should learn from such conferences and work for the welfare of society in the field of action. He said substantial steps had been taken to improve the international ranking of PU, which is showing encouraging results.

Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2023

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