Arrest for cyber stalking
FOR all the wondrous possibilities of the internet, the anonymity it affords can bring out some of the worst impulses in men. Online spaces can appear inviting to misogynists where they can, in the safety of their cloaked identities, slander and humiliate women at will. On Friday, an assistant professor at Karachi University’s psychology department was suspended after the university administration received a letter from the Federal Investigation Agency informing them about his arrest for having repeatedly posted indecent, doctored photographs of a female professor on a Facebook page. The woman in question has been working as a part-time teacher at KU as well as three other universities. Her ordeal goes back to at least two years during which she filed four complaints against the professor. The case was registered under Section 21 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 which deals with cyber stalking.
The harassment, abuse and trolling that are par for the course on the internet assume an altogether different and vicious dimension — replete with sexual connotations — when directed towards those belonging to the female gender. Articulate and assertive women are particularly the target of online abuse. The internet is also a friend to those bent on vengeance against former partners in intimate relationships; such attacks usually, though not exclusively, also target women. The echo chamber that is the online world amplifies the individual’s humiliation: some instances of cyber stalking and harassment have even led to the victim committing suicide. In conservative societies like Pakistan, where women have to tread a fine line between tradition and personal aspirations for educational or career advancement, online attacks that cast aspersions on their character can be even more damaging. While Pakistan’s cyber law contains several draconian provisions that limit individual freedoms and impose state hegemony on information, it appears to have been used judiciously on this occasion. Nobody should have to contend with the threat of cyber stalking.