63.51pc women in Bangladesh face online harassment

Make cyberspace safe for women, create a more inclusive digital world

Published : 28 Nov 2022 07:36 PM

Around 63.51 per cent of women respondents reported facing online violence, which was 50.19 per cent last year, according to a study commissioned by ActionAid Bangladesh in 2022. This means around 64 out of 100 women have to face online harassment and violence in the country. The findings of the study were revealed in a discussion session titled ‘Stop Online Violence against Women: Challenges and Way Forward’ organised by ActionAid Bangladesh.

The news of frequent victimisation of women in cyberspace is not surprising indeed especially in a country like Bangladesh where most of the online users are amateur in computer literacy. Women are often lured by hoax messages and fake identities in social media and they fall prey to offenders in cyberspace as well as the real world. Reportedly, 80 percent of cybercrime victims in Bangladesh are women and this highlights the vulnerability of women in Bangladesh no matter where they go, what they do, and how they dress and speak.

Cybercrime is a relatively modern phenomenon in Bangladesh and can take many forms. It is diverse and ever evolving. Cybercrimes that are commonly prevalent in social media are cyber obscenity pornography, cyber stalking, hacking, cyber defamation, and privacy infringement. 

Mechanisms so far used to safeguard

 cyberspace should be made more inclusive, 

and the question of rights and freedom 

in cyberspace needs to be duly addressed as well

Because of sheer lack of awareness about cybercrime, thousands of online users are becoming victims of cybercrimes. Experts are of the opinion that the main challenge in dealing with such cases and arresting the culprits is the delay in reporting to police. Many victims are reluctant to report to the law enforcers fearing the social stigma as their identities may be disclosed.

As cybercrime is an emerging threat and no one is fully secure these days, emphasis should be given on how we can control cybercrimes with continuous monitoring and act accordingly. In this regard, we need to frame quickly an appropriate and updated cybersecurity policy, create adequate infrastructure, and foster closer collaboration among all those involved to ensure a safe cyberspace for women. 

It is not easy to wipe out cybercrimes from the cyberspace. The only possible step is to make people aware of their rights and duties reinforcing the application of laws to check cyber crimes.  The government should look forward to playing an effective role in making the digital world safer. We need to deploy special cyber-security watchdogs and equip them with advanced technology. Mechanisms so far used to safeguard cyberspace should be made more inclusive, and the question of rights and freedom in cyberspace needs to be duly addressed as well.

Women are today and in future going to be the maim victims of cybercrime in Bangladesh. This is both threat and opportunity for legislators and those working to protect women in physical as well as cyberspace. It is not beyond the capacity of either to work together for the betterment of half the population, a goal well worth striving towards.