The power of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and social media in bringing positive changes in the society is proven globally. Yet, with its spread online harassment, particularly against females has been a recent phenomenon in the world and Bangladesh is no exception. This is not because of the spread or strong presence of ICT, rather a tendency among a section of users to abuse ICT and social media. In this context, Dhaka Youth Engagement and Support (YES) and Bangladesh Open Source Network (BdOSN) organised an open seminar titled “Combating Online Harassment of Women through Information and Communication Technology” on 29 January 2014 at the R C Majumder Art Auditorium of Dhaka University. Around 100 female YES members learned ICT application techniques to fight and raise mass awareness against online harassment. They also learned how to maintain privacy and online security while using social networks and communicate through e-mails.
Mr A A Munir Hasan, General Secretary, BdOSN presented the key note paper while Dr Suraiya Pervin, Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Dhaka; Ms Luna Shamsuddoha, Chairman, Dohatech and Mr Jabed Morshed, Joint Secretary, BdOSN discussed.
Mr Munir made a presentation on contribution of ICT in ensuring social justice and promoting good governance. He then continued on how online harassments occur – mostly from breach of faith. Users on good faith disclose security features like password to their close friends and husbands and as a result they easily become vulnerable to harassments. Once a close friend or beloved husband, do not hesitate to harass her female friend or ex-wife. To avoid such incitements, he urged the participants not to disclose personal information and shared some easily maintainable online security techniques. He urged the participants to build knowledge, evidence and awareness to initiate a social movement against online harassment and ensure social injustice for females.
YES members shared their harassment experiences and asked various questions around the topic and the speaker & discussants answered with possible remedies. They urged the participants not to hide anything from parents and concerned authorities rather they should be vocal against any harassment. They added that any kind of online criminal activity is punishable by law if the victim takes immediate actions.
In the context of digitalisation, this seminar is expected to sensitise and aware female YES members to positively use social media and ICT, fight online harassment and launch a social movement against such ill practices.