In Bangladesh, particularly young women are more likely than men to face severe online abuse that is violent. Despite weak institutional protection, women often make a formal report of harassment, abuse, and violence originated from online spaces. Women are the primary recipient of offensive and aggressive sexual and defamatory content in cyberspace from anonymous and fake sources as well as from known sources. False and altered unclothed pictures of women along with spam, elicit videos, rape threats, and indecent proposals have become the new form of Violence against Women in social media. Access to the internet in Bangladesh is growing very rapidly through mobile telephony; the total number of internet subscribers has reached 85.918 million at the end of April 2018. More the 93 percent of these subscribers use the internet on mobile phones, the rest of them are ISP or PSTN users. As of April, 2018 total number of people using mobile phones is more than 150 million. With this proliferation of the internet and mobile phones, the use of social media platforms has been increased, 29 million registered Facebook users of which 86 percent use Facebook from their mobile devices. At least one-third of the subscribers of mobile phones and the internet are women. Access to the internet in Bangladesh is growing very rapidly through mobile telephony; the total number of internet subscribers has reached 85.918 million at the end of April 2018. More the 93 percent of these subscribers use the internet on mobile phones, the rest of them are ISP or PSTN users. As of April, 2018 total number of people using mobile phones is more than 150 million. With this proliferation of the internet and mobile phones, the use of social media platforms has been increased, 29 million registered Facebook users of which 86 percent use Facebook from their mobile devices. At least one-third of the subscribers of mobile phones and the internet are women.
According to a study, 73 percent of women internet users have reported cybercrime As of December 2017 the government’s Information and Communication Technology Division’s Cyber Help Desk has received more than 17,000 complaints, 70 percent of complainants were women.
Unwanted and wanted exposure to online pornography among the young population led to other associated risks such as image-based abuse of users where women are highly disproportionately targeted. In 78% of these cases related to digitally manipulated images with pornographic materials, the victim is found to be a woman. It may be noted that almost 77% of the country’s teenagers watch pornography on a regular basis.
Bangladesh National Woman Lawyers’ Association noted on June 2017 that harassment remained a problem and monitoring and enforcement of the guidelines were poor, which sometimes prevented girls from attending school or work. The formation of complaints committees and the installation of complaints boxes at educational institutions and workplaces required by the Court’s directive were rarely enforced.
According to the Police Headquarters, 1,417 cases were filed under the Cyber Security Act 2006 from 2012 to June 2017. Police have pressed charges in 748 of these cases and submitted final reports for 179. Of these, 19 cases were filed in 2012, 48 filed in 2013, 149 in 2014, 303 in 2015, 546 in 2016 and 352 in 2017, up to June. According to the Cyber Crime Investigation Centre at the police Criminal Investigation Department (CID), different units of police work on cybercrime. However, only CID has a forensic lab to help detect or investigate such crimes. The unit received 25 complaints in 2013 when it started. Then in 2014, it increased to over 70. There were 217 complaints in 2015, 575 in 2016 and more than 600 complaints filed in 2017 up to just July. Among them, the majority of complainants were women. On the other hand, the Cyber Crime unit under the Counterterrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) said they had received over 500 complaints since starting the unit, among which they had filed cases after inquiry for 150. Another 55 cases were under investigation. Crimes committed with the aid of computers and the internets are cybercrimes. These can include virus attacks, hacking, using fake IDs or e-mails, threatening or bullying over the internet, lying or propaganda, sexual harassment over the internet, theft of information, money, and dealing in illegal products, copyright violation, pornography, militant propaganda and communication. An, Additional Deputy Commissioner of Cyber Crime unit of CTTC commented in media that they are e getting more complaints of Facebook or email account hacks and information theft via other means. In Dhaka, there is a chance to meet or complain directly to the cybercrime unit, the police officer also mentioned…
More than 17,000 complaints were submitted to the ICT Division’s Cyber Help Desk in the two years that it was open, an official from the division said. Among those, 70% of the complainants were women. More than 60% of women had faced some form of harassment on Facebook. About 10% of the victims had very serious allegations. Their images were stolen, merged with pornographic images and then released on the internet. ICT Division Public Relations Officer Abu Naser told the Dhaka Tribune that the division launched the help desk collaborating with Insight Bangladesh Foundation and ran till June last year. “We are going to open a desk again once the Digital Security Act is passed in parliament. Right now individual issues are being dealt with by law enforcement agencies,” he added. “We now have a section called Cyber Incident Response Team (CIRT), which response to organizations whose websites or networks come under cyber-attack.”
Often women end up with their social media accounts hacked. The perpetrators would then upload fake, undressed pictures of the victim to victimize them. Also, indecent messages are sent from her account to her contacts (i.e. Facebook friends) to undermine and dishonor the victim. Among the key motives of such cyber-crimes against women are defaming the victim; revenge; compelling the victim for physical relation; blackmailing for money; physiological torture; ego and power trips; the obsession for love and emotion etc. Amit Seal Ami, a lecturer from the Institute of Information Technology at the University of Dhaka, offers some basic rules you can follow to keep yourself safer from cyber violence.