The Digital Rights Foundation, a non-profit organisation that works to ensure safe digital space for all has reported a 189% increase in the complaints received by their Cyber Harassment Helpline during the lockdown, where majority of victims are women. Violation of privacy, sexual harassment, manipulation of personal information, and blackmailing through the release of personal videos and images are some of the common forms of online harassment encountered by women on a daily basis.
Cyber harassment not only restricts women’s freedom of expression but also has severe psychological repercussions. The pandemic has already halted social interactions, and online platforms provide the only space for individuals to connect with one another, therefore, safe access to digital space is more important than ever. In the 21st century it has become absolutely essential for Individuals to be aware of their digital rights. Victims of cyber harassment can register their complaints through the FIA National Response Center for Cyber Harassment (NR3C). However, the FIA must ensure that their online complaint center not only registers the complaints but deals with it on an immediate basis. Most individuals especially teenagers believe that they could take advantage of the feature of anonymity provided in the digital world and violate anyone’s personal space.
There needs to be widespread awareness about the responsibility of using the digital space. It is high time that the cases of online harassment are treated synonymous to other cases of harassment. Young girls often become the easy target for harassers who have now starting diverting to online platforms more and more frequently.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2020.