POST TIME: 26 May, 2018 05:16:16 PM
Concerns growing over sexual harassment of girls on social media
Independent Online Desk

Concerns growing over sexual harassment of girls on social media

While roaming around the blue and white world of Facebook, many forget the basic idea of using the social platform in a healthy way as many use it as a tool of harassing others, especially girls.

Most girls are still unaware that the digital space is being invaded with sexual harassment, violent messages and threats, and these are crimes.

In a recent study report, Cyber Crime Awareness Foundation (CCABD) revealed that among the victims of cybercrimes in the country, 51.13 percent are women while 48.87 percent are men.

According to a report, women from 18 to 30 years of age are mostly become victim of such crimes, and the percentage is 73.71, while 0.52 percent are below the age of 18, and 12.77 percent are of 30 to 45 years and 3 percent are above 45.

Women are mostly vulnerable to fake social accounts and account hacking as on average 14.29 percent of women become victims of propaganda through fake or hacked accounts. 9.77 percent women receive threatening messaging in social network sites.

Farzana Tasnim, an MSS student of Dhaka University, said many girls, like her, have to face cyber harassment on Facebook, especially in the 'Other Messages' section'.

"Most of the harassing messages come from fake IDs, and we cannot even track the culprits without any legal help," she said adding, "Though primarily we tend to block those IDs or report them, it cannot be a long term solution."

Esratul Jahan, a student of Dhaka University, told UNB, there is nothing new in harassing women on Facebook. "While women are facing violence and harassment everywhere on roads and at home, they have to also face such unexpected behaviour at the digital platform."

Receiving replies in comments having slang words, getting links of pornography in inbox -- these are happening every now and then in the Facebook, she added.

"Such harassments definitely create stress on mind. Many girls do feel that they should stop using Facebook. But that cannot be a solution. Instead, they should take legal actions against those who are harassing them," said Esrat adding that if such crimes are not resisted, then the criminals get encouraged further to commit more heinous crimes against women.

Jannatun Naima from Rampura, shared her experience with the UNB correspondent saying that one day she received a message in Facebook from someone containing abusive language, and the reason behind sending such messages was not to accept that person's friend request.

"I was so shocked seeing such messages. I've the full freedom to decide who'll be on my friend list and whose request I would accept," she added.
Naima expressed such kind messages create a mental pressure on personal life as well.

According to the report published by CCABD, 30 percent of the victims have no idea about how to take legal actions against the crime while 25 percent did not take any action thinking that they will not get any result after lodging complaints.

While the study found that many victims remain silent and prefer not to take any legal step, 44 percent victims believe that immediate and exemplary punishment can reduce cybercrimes.

The report suggested that cybercrimes might go beyond control for lack of clear knowledge about remedy, fear of reprisal and shyness to reveal truth.

Md Alimuzzaman, Deputy Commissioner of Cyber Security and Crime Division of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, told UNB about the scopes of taking legal actions against such harassment.

According to section 8(3) of the Pornography Control Act 2012, distribution of pornography via any electronic device, internet, social media site or hand to hand is punishable. For such crimes, one can land in jail for maximum five years or be fined Tk 2 lakh. If the suspect distributes the content only to an individual or to relatives and friends, he would be jailed for 7-14 years or be fined Tk 1 crore under section 57 of ICT act, he said.

Alimuzzaman added that crimes like threats or cyber bullying can be handled under Penal Code Act and Women & Children Repression Prevention Act 2000.

"Victims can lodge complaints directly with the police station concerned, and we also have a Facebook page named 'Cyber Security & Crime Division, CTTC, DMP' where victims can complain through given phone numbers and e-mail address.

"Then we take actions according to the complaints, we call in the victim and take steps to identify the suspect accordingly," he added.

He, however, said, complaining is the biggest challenge for the victims as they think it is not safe to complain or report at a late hour.

"It's easier for us to take action against the suspects if the victims come with their complaints as earlier as possible," Alimuzzaman said adding that they received 566 complaints of cyber harassment that in 2017 and 233 of those were resolved.

The deputy commissioner stressed having cyber hygiene saying, people should use the digital platform cautiously. "Public awareness is also very important to prevent such harassments in the social media."unb.