Lack of awareness, action behind increase in cyberbullying incidents
“ Many are even discouraged from filing cases in such situations because it takes a long time to get a verdict ”
Shipra Debnath, a student at Stamford University in Bangladesh and also a member of the team led by assassinated Major Sinha Md Rashed Khan, was recently the victim of severe cyberstalking.
Shipra and her family claimed that some images of Shipra were posted on Facebook with provocative comments, where she was portrayed with objectionable remarks by a section of netizens.
Even some senior police officials were allegedly involved in the act of harassment and intimidation of Shipra – one of the main witnesses in the case related to the murder of the former serviceman – on various social media platforms.
This is the latest incident, and certainly not the last, of the misuse of social media and other online platforms by a section of the population with special interests to defame, demoralize, harass, intimidate, threaten – among other offenses – people.
It has a lot to do with the lack of awareness and punishment for cyberbullying despite the significant expansion of the country’s digital footprint and the technological advancements made in recent years.
Expressing these views, human rights activists believe that this issue has experienced unprecedented growth due to the lack of awareness among the general public and the lack of appropriate action by state bodies on these issues. Questions.
Shipra tried to press charges against those responsible, including two senior police officers, under the Digital Security Act (DSA), but Cox’s Bazar Sadar Police Station refused to register her case.
Cyberbullying and character assassinations online have increased alarmingly in recent years. Many of the victims as well as those accused in sensational incidents fall prey to hostility online.
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, human rights lawyer Alena Khan said negligence on the part of law enforcement can be observed during incidents of online harassment and cyberbullying.
“Many are even discouraged from filing cases in such situations because it takes a long time to get a verdict. If the whole process of obtaining justice had been more efficient, these incidents would have been fewer.
“In addition, good and bad things coexist on social media platforms and therefore people in general need to raise awareness about the use and application of social media,” she added.
Rights activist Nur Khan Liton said, “When a victim asks the police for help, in many cases they are harassed instead of getting cooperation.”
Again, many victims of cyberbullying, especially women, feel shy and fearful that they will be at greater risk if they file a complaint, he added.
However, refuting the allegations, Dhaka Metropolitan Police Cybercrime Unit Deputy Commissioner AFM AL Kibria said the police were doing their duty under the law.
“They are not acting on the basis of political prejudice,” he added.
He said: “Considering the number of social media users in Bangladesh, it is very difficult to monitor and patrol each of them individually.
“In incidents of cyberbullying, online harassment and defamation, the law tells a person to seek redress from law enforcement. Thus, the victim can file a general journal (GD) with the relevant police station or with the court. ”
When contacted, cybercrime watchers said that in most cyberbullying incidents, the victim was female and a group of people were making sexist, offensive and obscene messages and remarks, citing his gender, his gestures, his clothes, his outlook and his profession.
On April 10 last year, 18-year-old Nusrat Jahan Rafi, an alim student in Feni, was set on fire in broad daylight on the roof of a madrasa by people loyal to Principal Sirajuddaula, as she refused to remove sexual harassment. case that his family had filed against Sirajuddaula.
Before being brutally murdered, she had met in March the police station of Sonagazi, OC Moazzem Hossain, to file a complaint for sexual harassment against the director of the madrasa, but the head of the police, instead of helping her, recorded her statement and posted it online.
In his efforts to seek justice, Nusrat was the victim of cyberbullying by a law enforcement officer.
The Sonagazi police station, OC, however, was later arrested and sentenced to eight years in prison under the DSA.
If we look at the case of Ayesha Siddika Minni, whose husband Rifat Sharif, 25, was hacked to death in broad daylight in the town of Barguna on June 26, 2019, we will find the same pattern of cyberbullying and virtual harassment.
A group of people, right after the police claimed that Minni was involved in the murder and for this reason was arrested, stormed social media platforms and participated in the assassination of her character.
She was ruthlessly trolled, the victim of cyberbullying for her alleged affair with one of Rifat’s friends and the main accused in the murder case, Nayan, who was killed in a shootout.
Even fake obscene videos of her with Nayan have been posted online.
Police, however, were reluctant to trace the Facebook accounts implicated in Minni’s defamation, harassment and intimidation online.
In another recent incident, JKG Health Care President Dr Sabrina Arif Chowdhury was arrested for providing false Covid-19 test reports.
Shortly after his arrest on July 12, a group of people began posting sexist messages against Dr Sabrina on Facebook, mentioning his dress, physical appearance and alleged affairs. She was also the victim of cyberbullying.
Sohagi Jahan Tonu, a second year student at Comilla Victoria Government College and also a theater artist, was raped and killed in Mainamati township in March 2016.
The murder sparked outrage across the country, but that was not enough to stop a group of people from posting sexually-oriented and hateful posts on social media, which ultimately led to the assassination of her. character.
Some have even tried to link his rape and murder to his involvement in theatrical activities.
When contacted, CID Cyber Police Special Superintendent Rezaul Masud said law enforcement primarily monitors and takes action on anti-state and anti-government issues, or against those who attempt to create unrest in society, as well as bogus portals of information and messages that could fuel religious conflict.
He said police receive around 100 cybercrime complaints every day.
“Not all charges are identifiable, so the police cannot act alone without charge in all cases,” he added.
He said, “If anyone files a cyberbullying complaint, the CID will investigate the incident and take appropriate action,” Rezaul added.
Supreme Court attorney Jyotirmoy Barua, a rights activist, said cyberbullying was growing silently and women were the main targets.
“It requires a policy on how to control or lead ordinary citizens in a positive direction. Our existing laws are more focused on how to suppress and punish.
“It is important to build a culture of using the law equally for all without using it selectively,” he added.
He said: “There are many ways to take online security measures, not just jail or a fine. Different types of restrictions can also be imposed. In many cases, it will no longer be necessary to go to court or to the police.
There is a need to develop a safe and secure online environment for all of us, ”he added.