Digital Rights Foundation released its Cyber Harassment Helpline’s Annual Report for the year 2019 today. This report is the combined effort of the DRF Helpline team as their work aims to have a safe digital space for all in Pakistan.

As per the DRF report, over the course of 2019, the Helpline has seen a total of 2,023 cases being reported. When compared to the overall complaints the helpline has received over three years, the calls from 2019 account for 45 per cent of all complaints.

This shows an alarming increase in the number of cases over time and a disturbing upward trend in cyber-harassment cases. About 57 per cent of the complaints are from women.This is followed by 30 per cent of complaints from men. Lastly, 10 per cent of calls are from men who are calling on behalf of someone, and 1 per cent are from women who are calling on behalf of someone. Less than 1 per cent of calls come from religious and gender minorities.

Over the past year, DRF has seen complaints trend towards phishing attacks where people are targetted through WhatsApp or text messaging. Another concerning trend is the increase of attacks on mobile wallets/ e-wallets like Easy Paisa. “We received a total of 855 complaints that were related to WhatsApp hacking or phishing attacks through WhatsApp. After messaging apps, we received the most complaints regarding social media applications. About 29 per cent of our complaints were related to cyber harassment on Facebook”, DRF said.

“We would also like to mention that our calls from minority groups are quite low, however this must not be misconstrued as these groups not facing harassment. Due to the immense societal pressures on these groups, as well as their unequal access to technology, they are unable to speak out about the harassment they face,” the DRF said in a statement issued.

Nighat Dad, Executive Director of DRF had this to say about the Helpline’s 2019 report:
“I am immensely proud of the work that our Helpline team has done over the past year. Their work and dedication is what keeps us going and enables us to help as many people as we possibly can.”

“Our real champions are our callers. They put their trust in us and for that, we are eternally grateful. I hope that we continue our work and are able to give back to them for the trust they have given us.”DRF said in 2020 they have seen an exponential increase in cases given the initial lockdown. In the months of March and April, we saw an increase of 189 per cent as compared to January and February.

“With the help of UN Women Pakistan and other supporters, we are currently running our helpline 24/7 to accommodate this increase in cases, and also have professionally trained mental health consolers at hand to attend to sensitive calls and cases, “Digital Rights Foundation said.


Courtesy Mashable Pakistan

Hafsa Adil Chughtai

Hafsa Adil Chughtai

Along with being an undergrad in Psychology, I also harbour a deep love for writing and research. I am always working to deliver authentic information to my readers.

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