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Digital Abuse in Kashmir: Not Safe Online

Digital Abuse in Kashmir: A growing concern

Ground Report | New Delhi: Online Harassment in Kashmir; Dua (name changed) was scrolling down her Instagram when she suddenly received a DM. When she opened the message her shock knew no bounds.

It have been years now since social media took over the globe like a storm. Every day people came up with new social websites where people from different backgrounds, regions, religions, gender etc. could connect online and make friends. Social media soon became a public domain where anybody could do what they wanted. Also with changing times websites evolved and so did the features. Though everything about the online or digital world was welcomed yet there were things that left people speechless.

“I Received DMS With Obscene Pictures.”

22 years old Dua (name changed) hails from the Srinagar area of Kashmir. Dua got in conversation with Ground Report to share her experience. “I’m active on Facebook, Instagram so it is like my daily routine to receive unknown DMs. Some of them are just casual but some are totally absurd and bizzare,” said Dua. “I once was scrolling down through my Instagram feed when I received a follow request. I ignored it and within like seconds of the request I received a DM request. When I opened it, I was left speechless because I was looking at a picture sent by a stranger of his private part. I did not know how to react,” Dua adds, “This was not the only time I from time to time keep receiving these texts. I even deleted alot of my previous accounts just because of this.”

This is not just the story of one Dua alone,  there are a lot of girls, women who go through this type of online harassment every day. Online sexual harassment has been rampant for a long now. Many females especially young girls receive sexually tinted messages from grown-up men. Many times since no one openly talks about it, it leaves the victims scarred for life.

What is Online Harassment?

Online harassment is the phenomenon in which people regardless of their gender are subjected to online abuse, which may include one or all of the below-mentioned criteria:-

Offensive name-calling

Purposeful embarrassment

Stalking

Physical threats

Harassment over a sustained period of time

Sexual harassment

The case of Arusa Parvaiz who was subjected to brutal online trolling was not just one of its nature, online trolling and bullying has become very common, especially in the cases of girls with public accounts. People write absolutely anything without thinking and get away with it.

“I was being stalked online.”

A girl on the grounds on anonymity told Ground Report about her experience. “I was very social on social media. So I used to add whoever sent me the add request. Until one day I came across this creepy account,” she said. “One day there was a friend request from an anonymous account when I added it, the user sent me my own display picture which he had downloaded with a text message that read hey there you look beautiful. I at first ignored it. But with due course of time, the messages started getting intense. I consequently removed that account,” she added, “Some days passed by and I received a request again from another unknown account. I also received a message request from the same, with my photo and the same text. This continued repeatedly for a long time and I realised that I was being stalked. I was enraged so I removed my picture I removed all my followers and deleted that ID of mine. Because that is all I could think of at that time.” (Online Harassment in Kashmir)

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Online stalking has become another norm in the digital world. Users stalk girls through anonymous profiles. These users then send absurd messages and sometimes they even go to the extent to get the personal details of the girls. However, it is seldom taken seriously.

“My fake profile was created.”

25 years old Zara (name changed) was one day busy in chatting with her friends when one of her Instagram friends send her a screenshot. “When he texted me and sent me the screenshot he asked me if I had created a new profile, I was like no I haven’t,” she told Ground Report. Adding further she said, “As I looked at the screenshot I was stunned to see my picture on the profile with my name and my bio. I didn’t know what that was. And to add to it my friend sent me some 10 screenshots, where my pictures were uploaded on the profile. A story was updated that read, ‘add me here old account hacked’ and the conversations.” She went on saying, “When I searched the account I couldn’t find it because they had blocked me. I was like literally begging everyone to report that account. I was stressed, I was freaking out. It took like 12 hours to take that account. I felt terrible.”

These incidents and experiences shared by female folks are just a few of the many horrible stories. Every day females go through these online harassment which leave a lasting impression. Psychologists and psychiatrists believe that online harassment of any nature can leave the victims traumatised and battling mental health issues. There have been many stories from many places where: victims of online abuse especially women chose to take their own lives because of the continuous harassment. In Kashmir however people seldom talk about online abuse, but nothing much changes.

A teenaged girl told Ground Report, “Sirf stories daal paatae hai hum ki report karo, baaki hum kuch kar nahi paatae. Kis ko bolaen kon sunaega? (We can only put stories asking to report a user, the rest we are not able to do anything. Who do we talk to? Who will listen to us?)

Online harassment or abuse is something to be taken very seriously and it is important that laws are enforced strictly. It is high time people know the gravity of the situation and combats this evil. It is high time this abuse is stopped as well.

You can connect with Ground Report on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Whatsapp and Subscribe to our YouTube channel. For suggestions and writeups mail us at GReport2018@gmail.com  (Online Harassment in Kashmir)

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Pic courtesy: mylifemycelebration.com

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