A Pakistani research-focused NGO, Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) revealed its annual report on the five-year cyber harassment helpline.
According to the DRF, WhatsApp and Facebook were the most commonly utilised apps in Pakistan to harass women. Its helpline for combating online abuse and harassment will reach a five-year milestone this year.
In the last five years, the online harassment helpline has received over 11,681 cases. In 2021, there were 4,441 cases received, with an average of 370 instances each month. The months of March and September saw a spike in reports, while the remainder of the year was quite constant.
About 68 per cent of the calls were from women, 30 per cent were from males, and the remaining 2 per cent were from gender minorities. WhatsApp was the most widely mentioned platform for harassment, followed by Facebook.
In 2021, 893 complaints were related to blackmail, and 727 incidents on the helpline involved the use of non-consensual photos, according to the research.
Executive Director of DRF Nighat Dad stated that “the pace at which the cases of cyber harassment are increasing is alarming and must serve as a wake-up call for us to take appropriate action to make the internet a safe and equal space for everyone”.
Pakistan’s first specialised helpline against cyber violence and harassment, the cyber-harassment helpline, was opened in December 2016. The toll-free number (0800-39393) is available Monday through Sunday, 9 AM to 5 PM, and includes email and social media help.