We all ought to be well aware of the term Cyber Harassment as it is the use of information and communication technology to harass any person (child, females as even males) or any group as well as organizations. The harasser’s primary goal is to exert power and control over the targeted victims via virtual world. It might be verbal, emotional, sexual or social abuse to turn someone’s world upside down. It usually includes negative impersonal online activities whereby one user is the assailant and the other is explicitly the victim. The word “cyber harassment” needs to be carefully address to the people because many are still unaware of this term and the rights reserved with it. And it’s importance arises keeping in view due to the fact that almost 80% of the victims are females and children which are a fragile part of our society as they can be easily manipulated by wrong hands.
This pathetic deed is incredibly increasing on an alarming rate. These cyber crime activities doesn’t only includes hacking and bullying online but also includes identity theft, digital piracy, financial fraud, electronic terrorism and extortion. Unfortunately, in our society, cyber harassment has been generally accepted as a routine part and almost every other person goes through any sort of related incident. It is usually shrugged off as less important because the incident happens online and not in “real” this paying no heed to it as it should be. Only if the harasser has any idea how this can lead to long lasting effect on the mind of victims.
Cyber harassment has now surpassed the limit where everyone’s identity especially young women’s is being stolen every three seconds as a result of privacy invasion. To control the rising cyber bullying and cyber stalking issues faced by women, a unit called National Response Centre for Cyber Crime (NR3C) is formulated by the Government of Pakistan to regulate the system. It is a running law enforcement agency to deal with cyber crime cases. This agency has been working in terms of computers, mobiles and videos forensics as well as technical training by Human Resources.
The effects of cyber harassment are profound on the victim who is being abused at regular intervals especially when the individual is unable to speak up for their rights. This eventually leads to post traumatic stress syndrome or clinical depression which is commonly seen in young women facing these stances as abuser’s victim. The victim’s response to the intensity of stress and trauma experience includes panic attacks, high stress level, anxiety, fear, nightmares, shock, disbelief, confused personality, hyper-vigilance as well as eating and sleeping disorders. The worst part is that victims of this abuse are even driven to suicide in rising numbers especially teenagers. Girls are most vulnerable in this case as we have seen so many examples before us, one of them was an aspiring doctor which saddens not only the parents and family but the whole society and this is increasing just because girls are silent on such matters while not raising their voices against such heinous crimes because according to them respect and dignity of their family is at stake which is utterly wrong.
There are laws to prevent these crimes such as The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Acts, 2016 has been enacted. PECB Bill (Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill) is there if the abuser tries to get into a relation with someone through a website, emails, chat rooms, discussion forums, texts, he or she can be jailed for three year or imposed a fine which may extend to one million rupees or both. Some organizations are also working to provide awareness, protection and recourse for escalating this arising problem.
Currently, the punishment will be given to the one who violates the ethical approach whether its a photoshopped image of a person, explicit videos or dual identity etc. According to a study conducted by a blogger, 60% of the internet users said they have witnessed someone being called names, 53% had been efforts to embarrass someone, 25% had noticed someone being harassed for a sustained period of time, 19% said they witnessed someone being sexually harassed whereas 18% said they had been seen someone be stalked.
Though cyber harassment and online threats are not a new phenomenon to be heard of but the degree to which these are directed at girls and women has begun to receive attention. There have been number of attempts seen to cater from pro profit business models to new algorithmic software applications to detect and monitor threatening language “Muhafiz”application in Pakistan. It has been noticed that harassment is overwhelmingly taking place on social media than by emails and texts.
Basically, cyber harassment of women is at risk of becoming, “an established norm in our society.” Many of the victims not even try to report due to several factors that are prevailing in the society. Women believe that online harassment has become a growing problem and despite of various laws they feel powerless to work over it.