An organization that focuses on empowering women and girls is set to launch Pakistan’s first Cyber Harassment Helpline. Out of the ‘Hamara Internet- Ending Online Violence Against Women’ conference in Islamabad, the Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) announced Monday that the helpline would be launched on December 1st.
According to the group’s Facebook page, the Helpline “will provide a free, safe, and confidential service to victims on online harassment”. They state this includes psychological counseling, digital security support, legal assistance, and referral to other services the victim may found helpful.
In addition to the helpline launch, DRF founder Nighat Dad has travelled across Pakistan, stopping at various universities – all in an effort to create more awareness about online harassment. In comments to dawn.com, she expanded on how harassment applies to victims online lives; “The same applies for the internet if someone is stalking you, sending unsolicited messages of comments on posts – this can convert into violence, threats or blackmail,” Nighat said.
Nighat says the campus visits gave many students the freedom to be more open about times when they were victimized by harassment. “When the girls learned about these things, we started getting so many calls and messages. They realized that if they couldn’t talk to family or friends about this sort of harassment, they could come to us,” she said.
The helpline launch has supporters outside of DRF as well. AnisHaroon, member of the National Commission on Human Rights, said: “It’s a good facility for women because this is a group of women who are willing to support victims of harassment and they have the understanding of the issue because it is a very sensitive issue.”
The new Helpline can be reached, starting December 1st, at 0800-39393.