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“Women should find help, if targeted, not be shamed.” Behind these words, hides the tragedy of online harassment, in the multiple shapes it may assume, from stalking to bullying, to rape, to ruining a person’s life. The suicide of the young woman from Naples, Italy, has strongly raised the issue of Internet dangers again. Nonetheless, the issue of online harassment is global. Around the world, young women are more at risk. A Pew survey found that 65% of Internet users between 18 and 29 years of age, have become the target of online harassment, with young women who suffer disproportionately high levels of violence.
A case in point is Pakistan, where the Federal Investigation Agency claimed it was investigating hundreds of cases of online sexual harassment every year (and many other are likely to not be even reported). It is a country, where over 1,000 women are murdered (the so-called “honor killings”) every year, and a woman is raped every two hours, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. To combat all this, Nighat Dad, a lawyer of 34 years, has created the Digital Rights Foundation. The non-profit organization educates Pakistanis, particularly young women, on how to react to online harassment.
Pakistan has the highest index of teledensity (75 percent) and the lowest prices on internet ever offered. While it facilitates communication, on the other hand, it also provides the opportunity for those who want to hurt to move with ease and avoid punishment. The Commission for Human Rights counted 423 rapes and 304 gang rapes in Pakistan last year. Numbers are tragically underestimated because most women are still afraid to denounce the attacks, which would bring them shame and dishonor.
A case similar to the one that took place in Italy had been recorded in Pakistan long ago. The video of a girl being raped by a group of men had gone viral on social media. Thus, the 23-year-old Pakistani (let us call her Sadia), had found the courage to report to the authorities the violence she had suffered. Yet, courage was followed by shame. The girl, who lives in a small village in Punjab, was easily identified and is now forced to live in a state of isolation, after having had to abandon her studies and be ‘locked’ at home. All this happens despite the fact that she is the victim and four people were arrested on charges of kidnapping, rape, and distribution of pornographic material. But there are no laws in Pakistan that would allow it, and the video continues to be shared on social media, Facebook in the lead, amplifying the humiliation and pain of the victim.
DAD – as mentioned – fights all those things. She is a single mother native of a village in Jhang. The lawyer practices criminal and family law and has an extensive experience in informatics law. “The modus operandi of the deviant groups – she explained – is pretty simple: create multiple digital identities that allow them to collect personal information, especially on women, in order to harass them both online and in the real world.”
A growing market for low-cost and accessible software also allows anyone to use mobile devices and computers in order to trace the movements of the chosen social target. Needless to say that it puts people, especially women, at great risk.
She has compiled a list of precautions that apply to any latitude on the planet: 1. Choose strong passwords and change them regularly. 2. Contact the authorities immediately in case of infringement. 3. she shares with friends and family the problem. 4. Do not give in to the demands of the blackmailers. 5. Try to identify the aggressor, if possible.
These advices seem trivial, but the help of friends, colleagues and relatives can be crucial; for example, to help the victim to get to the university or workplace. Or even not to make her feel alone and abandoned to public mockery, in case is of videos that infringe the privacy or the threat of aggression. In the end, it is always loneliness – institutional and family – the one to condemn the victim to death, in cases of stalking and mafia, both in Pakistan and Italy.

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