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‘Your digital safety matters to us’: New campaign for protection against electronic harassment, blackmail - Daily News Egypt

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‘Your digital safety matters to us’: New campaign for protection against electronic harassment, blackmail

In Egypt, recently two cases suicide due to the electronic blackmail, the first one is Basant Khaled, a victim of electronic blackmail, who committed suicide in early 2022 as a result of the severe psychological pressure she was exposed to and fear of scandal, after the blackmailer presented fabricated pictures of her for the purpose of blackmailing and exposing her. While the other one is Haidy that also committed suicide due to the blackmail from one of her neighbours.


Over the past decade, cyber safety and the concept of gender-based violence in the digital space have gained momentum in the Middle East and North Africa. 

With the increase in the number of women and girls using the Internet, not only did the percentage of electronic violence against them increase, but its forms varied, including cyber stalking, threats and extortion, sexual harassment and cyber bullying, surveillance and spying on computers and others. Although these risks to women and girls have become noticeable in the current period, there is still a severe lack of knowledge of some women and girls about ways to protect themselves and how to deal with these matters properly when exposed to any of these situations, which makes it worse.

In Egypt, recently two cases suicide due to the electronic blackmail, the first one is Basant Khaled, a victim of electronic blackmail, who committed suicide in early 2022 as a result of the severe psychological pressure she was exposed to and fear of scandal, after the blackmailer presented fabricated pictures of her for the purpose of blackmailing and exposing her. While the other one is Haidy that also committed suicide due to the blackmail from one of her neighbours.

 

Gifted to the soul of Basant Khaled, and due to the recent increase in the percentage of women who have become exposed to electronic violence in its various forms via the Internet, and in conjunction with the World Safe Internet Day, which is celebrated annually in February, specifically on8 February 8, with the aim of educating users about how and the importance of safe use of the Internet; the Salamat Programme  for Digital Safety for Women and Youth in the Middle East and North Africa— launches the online campaign “your Digital safety matters to us”, in cooperation with the “Digital Arabia Network (DAN)” and  Women of Egypt Initiative”. The campaign aims to educate Internet users about how to secure their digital accounts and protect them from hacking and electronic violations, as well as how to deal with electronic harassment. 

The Salamat Programme for Digital Safety for Women and Youth in the Middle East and North Africa, implemented by the SecDev Foundation, works to change perceptions and behaviours around digital safety, raise public awareness and build sustainable capacity for women, youth and civil society organizations to work safely online. 

As one day is not enough to raise awareness about these cyber crimes and how to protect yourselves from them, the campaign, “Your digital safety matters to us”, will last on various social media platforms for a month from its launch, until 6 March, 2022.

 

 

What will the campaign offer?

During this period, the campaign will present the most important digital safety practices in a detailed and simplified manner and through the use of slang language in order to reach the largest number of beneficiaries.

This campaign will help Internet users in general, and women in particular, to protect themselves and their accounts, in addition to presenting methods and tricks of electronic harassment, how to deal with it, and ways to protect accounts from hacking. 

In addition, the campaign will present the impact of these crimes on the public and psychological health and the psychological damage that women and girls who are subjected to these crimes may suffer.

The campaign will also provide free workshops and meet with specialists and consultants to directly respond to questions and provide solutions. These services are provided by a trained team provided by the “Salamat” programme  for digital safety in the Middle East and North Africa throughout the year through its website and free of charge, to help women and girls who are exposed to any of these crimes and electronic violations.

 

Girls are afraid to disclose their experience with cyber violence for fear of stigma

 Many girls are afraid to disclose their experience with cyber violence for fear of stigma, which makes them subject to psychological pressure.

Raed Al Sharif, Director of the Salamat Regional Programme for Digital Safety in the Middle East and North Africa, told Daily News Egypt that those girls fear to confront the abuser or blackmailer, their parents, social blame, and potential restrictions on them, which leads to serious psychological problems.

“It pains us a lot to hear the stories of girls and women who are about to end their lives because of these crimes, and that Salamat organisation has monitored in recent years several victims of these crimes, who ended their lives as a result of electronic threats. What is worrying is that with the increase in women’s use of the Internet, we expect these crimes to increase, so it has become necessary to raise women’s awareness to take all measures to protect themselves, in parallel with providing all support to those who have been exposed to these crimes.” he said.

The Salamat programme  aims to raise awareness of the importance of digital safety, and how to address gender-based cyber-violence via the Internet and social networks, by providing tips and educational resources on the most important digital safety practices, and working with many local partners and experts in the seven  implementation countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, Morocco, Algeria, Libya and Tunisia), as well as highlight the laws on cybercrime and local institutions interested in psychological support for survivors of electronic violence.

 

 

The same technology that provides means to blackmail women also facilitates the process of arresting the perpetrators of these crimes

Regarding the “Your digital safety matters for us” campaign, Basant Helmy, the co-founder of the DAN, told Daily News Egypt, that girls are more exposed to cybercrime because they are the weakest link and most vulnerable to all kinds of violence.

She explained that this is the other face of digital technology, through which cyberstalking, electronic sexual harassment, and blackmail by penetrating computers and mobile phones have spread to illegally use them to fabricate and threaten photos, videos and conversations, and impersonate well-known names and personalities to trap girls on social media, And other tricks that we see today.

 But fortunately, Helmy said  that the same technology that provides means to blackmail women is the same that facilitates the process of arresting the perpetrators of these crimes, and that is why the “Your digital safety matters to us” campaign is not only directed to women.

“But it is also a message to blackmailers and perpetrators of cybercrime that committing these crimes from behind computer screens and mobile phones will not protect them from punishment, because the “Internet Investigation” has the techniques that enable it to monitor any electronic violations against girls or young men very easily. This is also what we want to emphasize through the “Your digital safety matters to us” campaign,” she concluded.

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https://dailynewsegypt.com/2022/02/11/your-digital-safety-matters-to-us-new-campaign-for-protection-against-electronic-harassment-blackmail/
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