ISLAMABAD ( MEDIA )
Speakers urged Higher Education Commission (HEC) to come up with a policy to control increasing trend of cyber crime in the higher education institutions.
The demand came forward at a panel discussion ‘Social Media: New Dimension of Violence against Women’ where students shared the stories of violence and harassment faced by girl students in the universities and the society. A large number of students from public and private universities participated in the discussion. They were of the opinion that increasing trend of cyber crime against women immeasurably hurt young girls who face subsequent loss of personal freedom, mobility, recreation and most importantly educational and employment opportunities.
The event was organised to commemorate 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence. Speakers and participants condemned the rising trend of cyber crime against women and said that large number of girls and women are victims of this kind of violence which includes harassment via email, cyber stalking, exploitation, tampering, cyber pornography, defamation, morphing, visual surveillance and tracking. Event started with an audio presentation of a heart-touching story by a university student who had to leave her studies and suffered extreme physical and psychological violence because a fake statement from her that appeared on a confession page created by a university boy on the Facebook.
The girl had to leave her studies because of that incident but after seven years, she was able to collect enough evidence against the boy who ruined her life and got him booked.
In her talk about psychosocial impact of cyber crime against women, Mental Health Professional Dr Khadija Tahir said the internet is creating new ways and means for crimes to be committed against women and children. She said that psychological impact of this crime is tremendous on girls and stressed to strengthen family ties for better moral ethics in the society.
Student Rafia Jalil, narrated real life stories of girl students who suffered due to their baseless defamation on social sites. She said that due to existing social norms, women especially young girls are more vulnerable to the negativities of Information Technology.
Eminent artist and Gender and Communications Expert Simi Raheel said teachers need to understand and clearly communicate to their students the difference between gender and sex.
Social Media Expert Rubab Khan said that both boys and girls can be involved bullying at the social media but such abuse has never destroyed the life of a boy. “The impact is completely different for boys and girls,” she said while urging girls to learn how to stay safe on social media.
Legal Expert, Saad Rasool, said that legal protection in regards to offences against women in social media suffer from three fundamental defects including lack of legislation, difficulty of definition, absence of enforcement. “To the extent, limited efforts have been made with regard to such offences in Pakistan,” he said adding that implementation of laws depend on how sensitive individuals are about their responsibilities.
University of Sindh Institute of Gender Studies Director Dr Misbah Bibi urged HEC to issues directives to the university administrations for the control of rising trend of cyber crime against girls in educational institutions. She suggested that cyber harassment should make part of the Protection of Women against Harassment at Workplace Act.
Chief guest USAID Mission Director Gregory Gottlieb shared the story of his daughter who, at one stage, stopped going to school because of cyber bullying. He was of the opinion that this is the right time to lobby for a strong law against such crimes. Sharing his experience as a lawyer, he said that he saw many dangerous criminals winning their cases only because women were too afraid to speak about what happened to them. “Sexual harassment and, more broadly, gender-based violence, is not and never have been ‘women’s issues’ or ‘Pakistani issues.’
They are human issues, a fundamental matter of human dignity and human rights. And each one of us, no matter our sex, education, class, geography or age, is responsible,” he said.Aurat Foundation Chief Operating Officer Naeem Mirza encouraged boys and girls to publicly identify those involved in such crimes. He also pointed out and condemned the negative behaviours, which are taken as fun in the society.