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70% Increase In Cyber Harassment Complaints Recorded In 2020

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Internet freedom organisation Digital Rights Foundation has found that 2020 saw a 70 percent spike in online complaints, indicating a large number of of cases related to online harassment, blackmailing, extorting and hacking during the lockdown.

3,298 cases of online harassment were registered at DRF Cyber Harassment Helpline of which 66 percent of the complaints were by women while 34 percent of the complaints were by men, and the remaining 1 percent of the complaints were registered by trans people and other minorities.

The DRF report points out that the percentage of complaints made by men and minorities is due to stigma attached to men being vulnerable. The report states that men can’t ask for help from their relatives and close friends due to psychological reasons that stem from toxic masculinity. Therefore, men find it easier to tell there problems to a third part that they don’t know. “Thus, men are more likely to reach out for help outside their support circles,” reads the report.

Marginalised communities on the other hand report less complaints as they fear for their safety and don’t trust legal authorities as they lack sensitisation. “Members of marginalised communities find it difficult to report such issues to law enforcement agencies as these institutions lack sensitisation.”

In the provincial breakdown of the cases registered, Punjab comes at first place as 57 percent of the total cases were registered there , 11 percent were registered in Sindh, 4 percent in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 2 percent in Balochistan, 1 percent in Kashmir and 4 percent in Islamabad.

Nighat Dad, the executive director of DRF said that 2020 was a challenging year as online violence and harassment has increased. “However, we found new and innovative ways to keep working, especially when we realised that as lockdowns grew, so did cyber harassment,” she said.

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Naya Daur