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Day 13: 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence

Discussion Topic: Cyber violence against women

As shown by the statistics, the number of internet users in Nepal has increased rapidly in the recent years. People are now taking internet as the basic service for a number of daily purposes. While the number of internet users continues to rapidly grow across the nation, various forms of online harassment and the incident of cyber-crime has also been observed in the past years.

Council of Europe (COE) has defined Cyber violence as “the use of computer systems to cause, facilitate, or threaten violence against individuals that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm or suffering and may include the exploitation of the individual’s circumstances, characteristics or vulnerabilities”. When there is any violence, we assume that someone would get hurt physically. This is indeed a very crucial factor that reduces the gravity of cyber violence and at times they are completely overlooked. Especially young girls and women are soft targets of cybercrime as suggested by facts and figures. Many a times, these women do not understand how to register a complaint based on the mental stress/psychological trauma that they are undergoing, as these incidents take place in the digital space. While in most cases, cyber bullying, harassment and any other cyber-crime faced by women is considered a “behavioural fault” in a male dominated society of Nepal. Young girls and women are discouraged from reporting cyber violence against them as they hardly get any support from their own family members and are often defamed in every possible way instead of punishing the preparators. There is a strong possibility that young girls and women who cannot take a firm stand for themselves may feel humiliated and emotionally distressed, which can have a long-term effect on their mental health. Therefore, to make cyber space safe and healthy for everyone, strict cyber-crime laws and policies must be actively regulated in the country and also public awareness programmes should be started to prevent defamation of victims which can encourage girls and women to report any cyber-crime against them.

The above is one view of GBV, presented to promote thought and discussion around the topic.  The views expressed in the discussion topic does not necessarily reflect the views of the project or its team members.

RAP3 MHLR ensures a safe and healthy workplace for everyone working on the project. The RAP3 MHLR code of conduct clearly states that if there is any form of bullying/harassment through any medium – direct, phone calls or using online platforms, during office or non-working hours the project will have zero tolerance and take prompt action.  In RAP3 MHLR, we have a strict IT security and policies for everyone accessing and using the project’s assets and resources. An e-learning course is designed to build knowledge on the proper use of IT. Sharing the policy across the project helps our staff understand IT rules that will help protect themselves and others. Our IT officers provide the IT policies and guidelines to all the project staff on what to do and what not to do. They also clearly define, who gets access to what, and what the consequences are for not following the IT rules. Furthermore, sharing or posting personal information, photographs and stories of our staff, beneficiaries, or any other stakeholders through online/offline platform is not acceptable without obtaining the proper consent and permission from the concerned person.

In RAP3 MHLR, all staff and beneficiaries are well informed about the reporting mechanism of any form of violence against them. They also strictly follow the rules of obtaining consent from any concerned person/authorities before taking any photographs or sharing information in the public.

What can be done about cyberbullying or online harassment, particularly among young girls and women? How can we encourage girls and women to report against any type of online harassment?