Cybercrime: Skardu incident needs soul searching


By Ijaz Shigri

An honour-crime-related incident in Skardu where a boy and a girl’s inappropriate viral video led by the tragic murder of the girl by her brother, highlights the urgent need to address the perils of online exploitation and prevent such devastating consequences.

This article aims to explore the incident, examine the underlying causes, and propose comprehensive measures to curb similar incidents in the future. By focusing on education, awareness, and legal frameworks, we can work towards creating a safer and more respectful cyberspace for all.

The incident underscores the destructive power of digital tools and cyber spaces when misused for the exploitation and shaming of individuals, particularly women, and children.

The circulation of the video is not only a violation of the privacy and dignity of the involved parties but also exposes them to social stigma and subsequent violence. The tragic murder incident in point reveals the deeply ingrained cultural norms, such as “honour,” which can lead to extreme acts.

Social malaises  

To prevent similar incidents, it is crucial to address the underlying causes that contributed to the Skardu tragedy.

These causes include deep-rooted gender inequalities which limit women’s fundamental right to freedom and perpetuate double standards, playing a significant role in such incidents. It is imperative to challenge outdated and retrogressive patriarchal social norms that restrict women’s mobility and liberty.

Insufficient education and lack of awareness about consent, privacy, and responsible use of digital tools and the internet contribute to the vulnerability of individuals. Comprehensive sex education and digital literacy programmes can empower young people to make informed choices and navigate the online world safely.

The incident highlights the grave issue of cyberbullying and online shaming, where sharing and making viral explicit content can lead to severe consequences for the victims as well as the culprits.

Stricter legal measures against online harassment and the promotion of respectful online behaviour are essential.

Safety measures

To prevent similar incidents in the future, a multifaceted approach is necessary.

The following measures can contribute to creating a safer online environment:

We need to follow the code of life given to us by Islam. In a conservative society like ours, the lack of sex education, unrestricted access to pornographic content, drugs, and the influence of popular culture can have a negative impact.

Implementing age-appropriate sex education and physical care in schools, and family gatherings children should be informed who to sit with and on whose lap, and who to hold hands with.

Promoting digital literacy among individuals of all ages can empower them to navigate the internet safely and responsibly. These programmes should focus on privacy protection, recognizing and responding to online exploitation, and reporting mechanisms.

Strengthening legal frameworks to address online exploitation and cyberbullying is crucial. Laws must be updated to reflect the evolving digital landscape, ensuring swift and effective actions against offenders.

Law enforcement agencies should receive specialised training to handle cases related to online exploitation sensibly.

Engaging community leaders, religious institutions, and civil society organizations is vital for raising awareness and challenging harmful cultural norms. Open discussions, campaigns, and workshops can help shift societal attitudes toward gender equality, privacy rights, and the responsible use of technology.

The Skardu incident serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need to address online exploitation and its potential real-world consequences. By focusing on education, awareness, and robust legal frameworks, we can create a society that values privacy and respect both online and offline. It is crucial to work collectively to prevent future incidents, protect vulnerable individuals, and foster a digital landscape that upholds human dignity and equality for all.

Ijaz Shigri is a student at the University of Karachi

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