Experts on cybercrime and gender rights activists took part in discussing and raising awareness of gender bias and crimes against women in cyberspace in an online seminar titled "Safe Cyber Space for Women" on Wednesday arranged by human rights organisation Article-19.
Awareness of internet use for citizens, men and women of all ages, confidentiality of personal information, including secure passwords management, the inclusion of internet ethics in school curricula, non-use of unsafe apps and reporting harassment to law enforcement officials were highlighted in the event, said a press release.
The discussion raised issues of collective awareness and the responsibility of families, educational institutions, media and government agencies in ensuring the safe use of the internet in our daily lives, especially for women.
Najmul Islam, additional deputy commissioner of Cyber Crime Investigation Division of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) said: "Bangladesh has a high rate of cyberbullying and crime against individuals and 80% of the victims are women between the ages of 14 and 22."
He also highlighted that a significant portion of cybercriminals and hackers are teenagers between the ages of 16 and 17. He called upon the teachers at colleges and universities besides schools to play a role in this regard in educating the youths about this issue.
Dhaka University Robotics and Mechatronics Engineering faculty Prof Dr Lafifa Jamal noted that 80% of the risks of cyberbullying can be avoided if users are aware.
She further added: "Like social life, children and adolescents need to be made aware of what should and should not be done online. Therefore, parents and teachers also need to be aware of the importance of online safety."
Tech Solutions Managing Director Naznin Nahar said 48% of women who are victims of online harassment are village teenagers and young women who risk their safety by using unsafe apps.
"It is necessary to take massive initiatives at the public-private level to make them aware," she added.
Sadat Rahman, the winner of the Children Peace Prize 2020, observed that in the district level internet awareness is low among the youth.
"In districts like Narail, the awareness of teenagers about the internet is very low. The local authorities lack skills in online crime investigation," he said.
Article 19 Bangladesh and South Asia Regional Director Faruq Faisel presided over the discussion while Moriom Shelley, Program Officer and Gender Focal Point at Article 19 Bangladesh and South Asia, moderated the event.