Need stressed on safe online spaces for female journalists

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By Farah Jamil

In this digital age, it has become even easier than before to be stalked, harassed and intruded. During these times of fast digital innovation, it is important for women to assess their risks online, analyze them and browse securely.

With growing privacy concerns on digital spaces, Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) sought to increase awareness about privacy issues especially for female journalists and defend the right to privacy by research and reporting the tactics around surveillance.

It is a fact that female journalists and bloggers are increasingly the victims of online harassment including verbal abuse, smear campaigns and even death threats, in addition to technical attacks. The question is how can they protect themselves and the answer was perfectly given by DRF’s team.

DRF organized a training session on safe online spaces for female journalists/citizen journalists, focused on why it is important for women to be cautious about their privacy online and how can they protect themselves from digital threats?

Shaukat Ali – Program Manager of Online Safety of Female Journalists briefed the participants on how to secure social websites and internet browsing as being a female journalist in Pakistan is not an easy task.

The participants of this training session were all female journalists, bloggers, writers, human rights defenders and students. Female journalists from Interior Sindh and Balochistan were also a part of this workshop.

The participants were told how they could make their browsing and social networking safe and protected. In the beginning, the participants shared with each other the experience of working as journalists and digital harassment if they faced.

The session then moved to the digital security training empowering the attendees with basic tools to stay secure in the digital spaces. The training was aimed at equipping the participants with the skills and techniques necessary for staying safe online.

The participants were informed about difference software and tools through which female journalists can protect their online spaces.

Mona Prakash Mahtani, a resident of Hyderabad who received the Commonwealth Youth Award for Excellence, 2016, in the field of education shared her views regarding the training session, “It is quite amazing to learn more about cyber harassment and digital security. DRF took a great initiative aimed to protect women from work and cyber-harassment that they have to deal with throughout their lives.

Sabin Agha – a Journalist, Documentary Film Producer & Media Teaching Consultant shared her views about harassment for female journalists either offline or online during the session. “Harassment covers a wide range of behaviors of an offensive nature. It is commonly understood as behavior that disturbs or upsets”, she said. While talking about the success of this session, she said, this was an efficient approach to dealing with online harassment against journalists and bloggers. “The training was really helpful”, she added.

Najia Mir – Goodwill ambassador at International Human Rights Commission- IHRC and an anchor at KTN TV also encouraged the efforts of DRF. She said, “I will term it very useful & effective. Before this training, my knowledge about digital threats and cyber safety was very limited. But after this training session, I am feeling much secure about my online identity. In the era of digital age, being a journalist, we can’t survive without using our cell phones and laptops, this makes us more vulnerable to cyber threats. Such trainings are need of the hour”.

Other female reporters from Hyderabad, Sukkur and Blochistan also encouraged this initiative of DRF as they were not much aware of the safe internet browsing before the session.

To know more about the training session and future plans, we managed to talk Shaukat Ali – Program Manager of Online Safety of Female Journalists.

Shaukat highlighted the motive of this session, “We believe that free internet with access to information and impeccable privacy policies can encourage such a healthy and productive environment that would eventually help not only women, but the world at large.”

“We envision a place where all people, and especially women, are able to exercise their right of expression without being threatened”, added Shaukat.

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Story first published: 2nd December 2017

Originally Posted on SamaaNews

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