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5000 College Girls Will Get Trained On Using The Internet Safely In A Special Programme. We Need This For Boys Also

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I cannot imagine my life without internet. Sure, people used to manage before it existed and seem to have done pretty well for themselves. I mean, our parents have survived without it, got degrees, jobs and still can do without the cheesy good morning texts on WhatsApp and sending birthday wishes on Facebook (what else do they use it for anyway) but not us, not this generation, especially not in these times. But while it’s a great place for memes and entertainment, the internet also has a dingy, dark side to it where humanity and a basic sense of morality go to die.

According to the 2019 reports, India stood third in cybercrime victims list with 27k cases recorded in 2018. While these include credit card fraud, phishing, illegal downloading and child pornography, the crimes against women are also on the rise. Yes, I am talking about the terrible crimes that happen in the cyberspace like cyber grooming, harassment, revenge porn, cyber bullying and cyber stalking that we hear about almost every day.

Everyone is very well aware of the recent case of cyberbullying and harassment where a stand-up comedian Agrima Joshua got abuses and rape threats over some joke she made a year ago. She got cyber bullied which led her to delete her Instagram account. That’s how serious this was. Now, this was someone who had a voice and thus everyone came in support of her, defended her and got the bully arrested but not all girls in India have that kind of support, not even from their family in some cases.

Now, the only way to stop these cybercrimes is to either make stricter laws and mend the loopholes in the existing policies and the law system. While we work on that, since it takes years to get anything system-related done in this country, the only option we are left is to teach our girls how to use the cyberspace safely. And the Maharashtra State Women Commission and Responsible Netism has done exactly that.

Also Read: #Trending: Comedian Agrima Joshua Has Called Out One Of Anupam Kher’s Students For Sending Her Abusive Messages. This Online Trolling Is One Getting Worse

The non-profit organisation has come up with a special programme called Digital Shakti Stree in an attempt to protect women from cybercrimes. Through this programme, 5000 college girls of age 16 to 25 from 10 different cities of Maharashtra, including Mumbai, will be trained on how to use the internet safely. This will not only empower these young women and boost their confidence but also give them an opportunity to build a safe space for themselves. This programme will be launched today by Yashomati Thakur, Minister of Woman and Child Welfare.

If you think about it, it is so important to teach these young girls how to protect themselves from the online predators. This is basically a self-defense tool to stave off the cyber bullies and stalkers and frauds. The training will be given in the form of 90-minute webinars which will include videos, case studies and real stories. It is expected to be attended by 100 girls at a time. They will be taught about all the crimes against women that can happen on the web trolling and harassment to sextortion, hacking and morphing. Plus, they will also be given a training on how to educate others on online safety so that they can impart this knowledge to other women. They will be trained as Cyber Sakhees.

“Our initiative to empower young women digitally is a way to strengthen and make them more confident and competent to cope up with the challenges which have emerged in the present times. The programme also underscores the commitment and dedication of the commission,” Commission Member Secretary Aastha Luthra said in an interview with Free Press Journal.

Not only this, they will also be provided with the relevant online and offline contacts they can seek help from in case they witness any foul play on the internet. This will include the contact numbers of the superintendent of police of cyber cells across Maharashtra. Sonali Patankar, the founder of Responsible Netism said, “We also play the role of being a referral organisation. We connect participants facing online distress with the local law enforcement, local organisations and mental health professionals for any psychological support required in terms of counselling or other interventions.”

I think it’s the need of the hour. Cybercrimes in India are on the rise and becoming one of the most serious issues by the day. More so because often these cases go unreported since the mentality is that if the person behind the computer isn’t physically harming you, it really doesn’t matter and not worth reporting. Even in case of trolling, harassing and cyber bullying, we think blocking the person is the better solution than to report them, which might take off the stress but leaves other women just as vulnerable.

I think it’s a great initiative to educate and empower women so that they can protect themselves in the cyberspace, but while we are at it, can we also train and counsel college boys on how and why not to use internet to commit cybercrimes? Because that will be great.

Also Read: CBSE Introduces A Handbook On Cyber Safety For Students Which Talks About Revenge Porn And Consent. This Was Needed

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