In 2016, Pakistan’s parliament passed the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (Peca), a set of laws that supporters contended would restrict online extremist content, prosecute hate speech, and curb harassment of women on the internet.
To implement this law, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) created a special cybercrime wing that focuses on curbing the online harassment of women. Pakistani twitter sees the coordinated harassment of female journalists and media personalities routinely. Furthermore, according to surveys conducted by the Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) regarding young women in the country, 34 per cent of women had experienced online harassment, while 55 per cent reported that they had witnessed other women being harassed. Furthermore, 70 per cent of women stated that they were afraid of posting their pictures online due to the risk of misuse.
The FIA’s cybercrime wing that implements Peca and investigates complaints, especially from women only has a staff numbered around 500 in a country of 34 million internet users (400 of whom were added this year).
In order to directly complain on the cybercrime helpline, dial the helpline number 9911, or complain online by registering your complaint via emailing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2016, DRF launched Pakistan’s first helpline for people facing online harassment. The idea grew from DRF’s work on Hamara Internet (‘Our Internet’), an initiative to train young women in digital security and empower them to reclaim online spaces for themselves. Many women told DRF they had experienced sustained harassment, but were afraid of not being taken seriously if they brought their experience to Pakistani law enforcement. Those who had done so often said they had been shamed or blamed for their experience.
Internet users can reach by calling on the toll-free number: 0800-39393 Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm or emailing at email@example.com.