63.51pc women face violence in digital platforms: Study
A recent survey conducted by ActionAid Bangladesh revealed that some 63.51 per cent women in the country faced violence in different digital platforms this year whereas the rate was 50.19 per cent last year.
The findings of the study were disclosed in a discussion titled 'Stop Online Violence Against Women: Challenges and Way Forward' on Sunday at BRAC Centre Inn, as a part of 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women campaign.
The survey was conducted virtually in 6 districts - Shatkhira, Sunamganj, Patuakhali, Bandarban, Kurigram, and Lalmonirhat, which covered 359 female participants aged between 15 and 35.
According to the findings, in 2022, among the various digital platforms women mostly faced violence on Facebook (47.60pc), in Messenger (35.37pc), in Instagram (6.11pc), in IMO (3.06pc), in WhatsApp (1.75pc) and in YouTube (1.31pc). The combined score under the 'other' option comes as 4.80pc and the said platforms or ways of harassment mentioned are video call, mobile phone, text etc.
Hateful and offensive sexual comments ranked the top among the types of online violence faced by women (80.35pc) this year.
Some of the participants of the survey said they were harassed by fake ID and some said they were blackmailed with their private photos and they even received threat of sexual assault.
The study found out that the online violence caused psychological trauma, including depression and anxiety, loss of confidence and self-dignity and moreover emotional distress among the victims.
Of the victims, 14.91pc women submitted formal complaints against online violence and more than 85pc sufferers remained silent, the study further explored.
Most of the participants in the survey opined that the existing complaining mechanisms do not work effectively; consequently they are discouraged to lodge complaints.
The study also showed there is a lack of awareness campaign among the women regarding digital security.
The participants of the survey suggested ensure strict enforcement of law, speedy and exemplary punishment, online and offline awareness campaigns and training to make mass people aware of safe digital media usage.
Farah Kabir, Country Director of ActionAid Bangladesh said online violence against women is increasing rapidly and added, "Especially teenagers and girls below 18 years are mostly falling into the trap of online violence."
He said everyone should come forward to stop online violence against women.
Taslima Yasmin, Assistant Professor of the Law Faculty of Dhaka University (DU), opined that technical assistance is required in addition to strengthening the legal process to resolve online violence.
"Government has set up Digital Literacy Centre for students at school, college, and university level so that they can easily acquire knowledge about digital literacy. At an individual level, we all need to be aware and careful about our online usage," Mohammad Saiful Alam Khan, Project Director of Secured Email for Government and Digital literacy Centre Project, Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC), ICT Division said.
Trishia Nashtaran, Organiser of Meye Network, Dr Ashique Selim, Lead Consultant Psychiatrist and Managing Director of Psychological Health and Wellness Clinic and Fatima-Tuj-Johara , Staff Reporter of Daily Kaler Kantho also spoke in the discussion.