Speakers demanded to end cyber violence against women

Speakers demanded to end cyber violence against girls and women in a discussion meeting titled `Cyber Violence against Women’ held on Monday at CIVIC Centre, in the city (Dhaka).

They said that cyber violence is a growing concern in recent times in Bangladesh. And woman folk is subjected to serious threats and becomes the victims of the violence in the digital platforms, mainly through facebook posting and text messages, and derogatory photos, videos.

They also raised concerns that cyber violence against women is still not treated seriously by the law enforcing agencies due to the lack of understanding suggesting that combating cyber violence against women needs huge attention by exercising existing policies and laws. And if needed, the government should formulate new policies and laws to ensure justice to the victims. In addition, all netizens should behave responsibly online and refrain from doing unwanted behavior. In this regard, a guideline can be formulated to train young people for their responsible behaviors in the virtual world.

Speakers further mentioned that cybercriminals must be punished within a short period of time to set examples and women must raise their voices against the cybercrime they face and demand exemplary punishment putting legal allegations, rather than to be silent.

The discussion meeting was organized by VOICE, a rights-based research organization in Dhaka while Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, executive director of VOICE moderated the event.

Abtab Khan Shawon, research and monitoring associate presented the keynote and said that false and nude pictures of women along with spam, elicit videos, rape threats, and indecent proposals have become the new forms of violence against women in social media.

He also mentioned that one in every three women is a victim of cyber violence. The World Health Organization considers violence against women “a global health problem of epidemic proportion”, ranging from domestic abuse to street harassment, sex trafficking, rape, and femicide. Social media has fuelled this pandemic.

Drawing from a study he further mentioned that women aged from 18 to 30 years are mostly the 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.

According to the Cyber Crime Investigation Centre at the police Criminal Investigation Department (CID), different units of police work on cybercrime.

However, 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 is often committed by ex-partners. Research suggests that up to 90% of non-consensual pornography victims are women and still counting.

Dr. Hasina Banu, women activist, Mushfika Laiju, research and advocacy director at BNSK, journalist Sajeda Haque, Arshad Siddiqui from Sampratik Deshkal, Badrul Alam of Bangladesh Krishak Federation, singer and poet Hasan Mahmud also spoke in the panel.