Being a woman is no easy feat. You aren’t just burdened by the preconceived social notions regarding your gender but also have to face the derogatory comments thrown at you all the time. At times, women — irrespective of their age, aren’t safe even in their own homes!
Over the years, the emergence of the World Wide Web and social media has made it even harder for women to feel safe. According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Centre’s Internet and American Life Project, almost 35% of teen girls have been forced to block or unfriend a person whose flirtation tactics crossed a line and made them feel uneasy. On the other hand, it was found that only 16% of boys reported the same issue. And what was worst was that the harassment shockingly came from people the victims knew personally!
In Pakistan, there may be a lack of accurate statistics to gauge the impact of cyber harassment, but the problem is, unfortunately, very prevalent. From the average internet-user to female celebrities, all have been subjected to the trauma. For instance, earlier this year, actor Mawra Hocane was harassed over Twitter for expressing an opinion that differed from that of her followers. The 23-year-old Mawra, therefore, was compelled to delete her tweets in order to put an end to the online bashing. Therefore, you should take measures to surf the internet safely.
The following pointers can guide you through an awkward cyber situation:
1. Recognise the situation for what it is: Online harassment is also referred to as cyber-bullying. As upsetting as it can be, recognising the problem is extremely important, as opossed to ignoring it. Engaging with the bully will only make matters worse as they feed off their victim’s misery and pain.
2. Make a copy of the message, photo or video to use as blackmail: Copy the URL of the specific webpage the harassment is happening on. Then screenshot the webpage, just in case you need evidence against your harasser in order to get them reprimanded.
3. Contact the website operators: You can do this either by phone, email or perhaps a contact submission form that the website has online. Request them to take the content down immediately and if necessary, keep repeating your request until the website has done the needful.
4. File a report with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA): If the matter gets out of hand, allow the National Response Centre for Cyber Crimes of the FIA to take over. Don’t be let down by the trouble you may have to go through in the process.
Published in The Express Tribune, Ms T, October 18th, 2015.