Call for end to cyber violence against women

Speakers at a discussion meeting on Monday demanded an end to cyber violence against girls and women.

Cyber violence is a growing concern in Bangladesh, they said, adding that women face serious threats and fall victim to violence through digital platforms, mainly Facebook.

VOICE, a rights-based research organisation in Dhaka, arranged the discussion meeting titled “Cyber Violence against Women” at CIVIC Centre in the city, said a press release.

Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, executive director of VOICE, moderated the event. Dr Hasina Banu, women activist, and Mushfika Laiju, research and advocacy director at BNSK, also spoke at the programme.

Abtab Khan Shawon, research and monitoring associate of VOICE, presented a keynote paper at the programme and said false and altered unclothed pictures of women, elicit videos, rape threats and indecent proposals have become new form of violence against women on social media.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) considers violence against women is “a global health problem of epidemic proportion”, ranging from domestic abuse to street harassment, sex trafficking, rape and femicide, he said, adding that social media have fuelled this pandemic.

Quoting from a study, he mentioned that women from 18 to 30 years of age mostly become victim of such crimes.

According to the Cyber Crime Investigation Centre at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), different units of police deal with cyber crimes. But only CID has a forensic lab to help detect or investigate such crimes, he said.

One of the most disturbing forms of online violence is non-consensual pornography, which former partners often commit. Research shows that up to 90 per cent of non-consensual pornography victims are women and the number of such cases is rising.

The speakers said cyber violence against women is still not treated seriously by the law enforcement agencies due to “lack of understanding”.

They also suggested that the government should formulate policies and new laws to ensure justice to the victims. All internet users should behave responsibly online and refrain from showing unwanted behaviour.

A guideline can be formulated to train young people for their responsible behaviours on internet. They also mentioned that cyber criminals must be punished within a short period of time and women must raise their voice against cyber crimes they face.