As the digital age gains in importance, the urgent necessity of cyber security simultaneously does too. Women are smashing through glass ceilings and norms today, to stand on an equal footing with men. They are reclaiming their right to participation in public spaces, including those online. Against that context, the need for measures to protect women’s identities, dignity and agency in digital spaces becomes imminent.
The lack of women’s safety in India extends to our screens too. Widespread digital and telephonic access has allowed for an exaggeration in virtual harassment of women. We’ve all had obscene messages or texts or calls flash on our phones nonconsensually. Does that mean women must stop texting or taking calls?
The solution lies in making women’s experiences with telecommunication safer and more secure. Towards that end, Truecaller and Network18 have partnered up for the campaign ‘#ItsNotOK.’
Founded on research carried out in five countries across the world, Truecaller introduced their campaign against cyber harassment in 2020. From its position as a software that provides safety measures such as caller-identification and call-blocking online, the company is spearheading a movement towards positive change and digital equality, with a hope to create on-ground impact.
The app claims to have identified and blocked 38 billion unwanted calls in 2021. As per the company’s Global Spam Report 2021, India stands near the top at the 4th spot when it comes to the number of spam calls received.
For women, it is not just spam calls that inundate our phones but also inappropriate calls. According to the company’s data, one in every five women in India is subjected to harassment through obscene calls or texts. That, coupled with the statistic that India reports a stalking case every 55 minutes, exposes a worrying reality.
Beyond calls, there is also the ever-persistent danger of explicit content published through morphed photographs and abuse that women have to live with. According to the latest data by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), cyber crime against women related to such content saw an increase of 110 percent between 2018 and 2020.
The #ItsNotOK campaign is a call to fight this harassment and encourages women to break their silence when they are targeted. It tells women to #CallItOut, by providing them a handy guide that focuses on awareness and action against cyber crime.
Here are some key steps women can follow to ensure social media safety:
- While surfing, be sure to use VPNs and private browsers to preserve privacy. Always read the permission requests on a website before granting access.
- Use social media accounts with the multi-factor authentication (MFA) feature that will protect your identity at more than one level.
- Avoid giving out private data, especially financial information, and be cautious about links embedded in messages from unknown numbers.
- You can take your complaints to women’s cyber safety helplines that will safeguard your online experience and ensure action.
- You can also dial 112 or 181 or log on to cybercrime.gov.in to report harassment.
The campaign will also platform a conclave on the subject in New Delhi on March 29, which will witness a host of notable names join the movement in discussion of ways to assess and prevent harassment of women. Rajeev Chandrasekhar, state minister for Information Technology, activists Atishi Marlena and Ranjana Kumari, actor Raveena Tandon, and a list of lawyers and mental health experts are expected to grace the event. You can watch the live conclave here.
This article has been posted in collaboration with Truecaller, against women harassment to #CallItOut because #ItsNotOK.