LAHORE (ENNS) Over the course of 2019, the Helpline has seen a total of 2023 cases being reported, with the average of 146 calls per month. When compared to the overall complaints the Helpline has received over three years, the calls from 2019 account for 45% of all complaints. This shows an alarming increase in the number of cases over time and a disturbing upward trend in cyber-harassment cases.
About 57% of complaints were from women.
This was followed by 30% of complaints from men. Lastly, 10% of calls are from men who are calling on behalf of someone, and 1% are from women who are calling on behalf of someone else. Less than 1% of calls come from religious and gender minorities.
Over the past year, we have seen complaints trend towards phishing attacks where people are targetted through WhatsApp or text messaging. Another concerning trend is the increase of attacks on mobile wallets/ e-wallets like Easy Paisa. We received a total of 855 complaints that were related to WhatsApp hacking or phishing attacks through WhatsApp.
After messaging apps, we received the most complaints regarding social media applications. About 29% of our complaints were related to cyber harassment on Facebook.
It is pertinent to mention that calls from minority groups were quite low, however, this must not be misconstrued as these groups were not facing harassment. Due to the immense societal pressures on these groups, as well as their unequal access to technology, they are unable to speak out about the harassment they face.
Nighat Dad, Executive Director of DRF says,
“Our real champions are our callers. They put their trust in us and for that, we are eternally grateful. I hope that we continue our work and are able to give back to them for the trust they have given us.”
Our work in 2020 has posed many challenges but has also allowed us to grow. With the COVID 19 pandemic, we were forced to work from home, giving us the challenge of working the helpline remotely.
In the months of March and April, we saw an increase of 189% as compared to January and February. With the help of UN Women Pakistan and other supporters, we are currently running our helpline 24/7 to accommodate this increase in cases.