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Saturday Feature
Women bear the brunt of Internet abuse
Yasmin Rimi

          Anamika, a meritorious sociology student, is a lively woman. Teachers like her because of her creativity. Classmates adore her as she is friendly to them. She is now in trouble.
One day Anamika (not her real name) receives a call on her mobile phone. "Are you free tonight? I want to be with you," asked the male caller. Anamika shouts at the man and puts the phone down in anger.
After some time another man phones her with same proposal. Anamika could not understand anything about it. After a while when another call comes she wants to know the reason from the caller. The man replies, "It was you who gave an advertisement on the website seeking companion." She then tells the guy, "You are mistaken. I did not give such advertisement". But the phone calls keep coming relentlessly.
Eventually, Anamika realises much to her surprise that in order to harass her someone known to her has given the advertisement providing all her personal information. The trouble proves to be too much for her and she has got psychologically devastated. Day by day she becomes quiet. After that she finds it difficult to put up with any outsiders.
Over the time technology has developed a lot. And with this there have been new dimensions to harassment of women. It is seen women are harassed in many ways through Internet. Mailing with obscene comments, using women's faces in pornographic pictures are now a normal happening.
Earlier women were troubled by telephones, but with the development of technology the harassment of women has been intensified. The number of perverted youths has increased at an alarming rate. This immoral addiction has been spreading faster than the drug addiction.
Consider Arpita (again an imaginary name). She is an A level student. She is a great fun to everybody. One day she receives a phone call. Giving her a website address, the male caller says, "There is important information on the website. Have a look at this. When asked what was that he says, "You will understand when you see for yourself"
She opens the website to find her own face in a pornographic picture. Having looked at the picture, Arpita screams in disbelief. She cannot believe that her own face exists in that type of picture. She herself cannot imagine such a picture, let alone her own. Gradually, she became mentally ill.
Assistant Professor of National Institute of Mental Health Dr Nizam Uddin says, "People always get attracted to prohibited elements. Due to this attraction, some people harass women on the Internet. Besides, things like personality type, media influence and dish culture act as catalysts. Apart from this, a male in a conservative social system is getting opportunity to do such things in a quiet environment of cyber cafe, which is a factor behind the increase of sexual violence."
He says, "Those people who do these actually suffer from personality disorder, which we term as psychopath. Some of it comes from inheritance while some comes from surrounding environment. They take delight in finding people in misery or embarrassing situation. Besides, they are devoid of any morality and humanity that is why they have no regret for their misdeeds."
Dr Nizam Uddin thinks, "Reactions to these harassments depend on the individual's personality type. Men or women with weak or emotional personality will react much more than the others. The severity of the reactions can range from light to extreme such as social phobia, inferiority complex and reluctance of mixing with people. Even, in some cases they can suffer from mental diseases, including schizophrenia. Normal activities can also be interrupted. On the other hand, reactions will not be dangerous among those who can take these sorts of incidents easy."
In another incident, a second year student of Dhaka University, Sheela (not her real name), got into chat room after finishing her tasks with Internet. After a while one person sent her a web address. Out of some curiosity, she opened the website only to find a chart of porno pictures. Having a glance on the chart she abruptly closed it. But after sometime she found out that the website appeared in her computer's desktop. She tried heart and soul to delete the particular website without any success. When Sheela's mother was informed of this she scolded Sheela for this. Not only that each member of the family started behaving rudely with her and she was barred from using the computer from that fateful day.
Regarding this Farida Yasmin, an Assistant Programmer of a renowned bank says, "People who do these are actually perverted. If not, no one can take pleasure in doing so. I don't understand why a male is harassing a female despite his inability to see the female's emotion".
She says, "In order to deal with the problem enacting law is not enough. Our mentality needs to be changed. What will law do if people do not use their conscience? In this regard we need to change our perception.
A teacher of Shahajalal University of Science and Technology Ruksana Tarannum. Tajin says, "Actually, people's attraction to bad elements will remain for good. And as information is available quickly and easily, it is spreading fast".
Information technology expert and Computer Science and Engineering department chairman of Shahajalal University of Science and Technology Dr Jafar lqbal says, "Harassment of women has been going on in the society for a long time. With the development of technology it has been intensified through Internet. The tendency of harassing women is in fact -one kind of social crime."
He continues, "Cyber cafes, universities and other concerned institutions can take actions against this. They should not install the computers in hidden places. Each computer of the cyber cafes can be used openly rather than in enclosures because most crimes of these kinds are committed through the cyber cafes."
Stressing the need for formulating a strict law to control this he says, "Everything will have good and bad sides. The number of Internet users can be reduced significantly had the price of computers goes up due to the introduction of different systems to get rid of the bad sides. We will have to proceed keeping this in mind."
Bangladesh Computer Council Executive Director Dr AM Chowdhury says, "It's possible to capture those who cheat and engage in terrorismon Internet. Our Country is also going to formulate Internet law and they can be tried under the common law."
Most of the countries across the globe can feel the necessity of formulating laws to stamp authority on Internet. Some countries already have formulated legislature.
Cyber cafes of neighbouring India already began to compile the personal details of the subscribers. China enacted new law in 1996 to control the usage of Internet. The pornography on Internet was barred over there. In South Korea, there have been provisions of imprisonment and fine for the Internet users who engage in harmful activities to national security and for obscene purposes.
Assistant Manager of Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Fowjia Sattar thinks that Bangladesh would also be successful in stopping crimes and cheating in Internet by following in the footsteps of other countries. But good will of all quarters is needed to do so.


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