Women, LGBT raise awareness over online violence

Women, LGBT raise awareness  over online violence

Ayu, a 26-year-old activist in an institution representing the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, never thought that breaking up with her boyfriend after a six-year relationship would prove to be such an exhausting and traumatic experience.

"He was an Information Technology [IT] student when I broke up with him in 2008. He could not deal with our separation. He called me more than 40 times an hour and hacked my Facebook account," she said on Saturday.

Ayu said she did not know about the hacking until her fellow college student told her that her profile picture had been changed into an X-ray of a chest with an exploding heart and her account was also full of inappropriate posts.

The ex-boyfriend also targeted her email, threatening her that he would expose secrets shared in the email address.

Meanwhile, Lini, another 26-year-old LGBT activist, said she decided to filter her friends in Facebook in order to prevent hate speech she used to receive every time she campaigned about LGBT rights on her account.

"I also post status or articles only to particular friends," she said.

Ayu and Lini were among a number of participants who joined a series of training sessions on digital security that were aimed at ending online violence against women and members of the LGBT community.

The three-day training is part of the International Feminist Hackathon (FemHack) held in 26 countries all over the world.

The event was also held to commemorate the death of Sabeen Mahmud, a Pakistani human rights activist who was gunned down on April 24.

Dhyta Caturani, a women's rights activist who initiated the event in Jakarta, said that FemHack in the capital city focused on educating women and LGBT community members to be more aware about digital security, especially related to online violence.

Dhyta said the awareness of Indonesian people of digital security was very low, so Internet users were prone to various kinds of violence.

"According to an estimate by the United Nations, 95 per cent of aggressive action, molestation and abusive language on the Internet is addressed to women," she said.

Dhyta said women and the LGBT community needed to be able to master technology in order to use it to express their ideas and stances without being afraid of becoming the subject of online violence.

According to Dhyta, online violence can include cyber stalking, hate speech, revenge porn, threats and information hacking.

She said the violence on the Internet and in social media was similar to that offline. "However, on the Internet, the violence is conducted faster and is more repetitive," she said, adding that the perpetrators usually believed they could hide their identities.

One of the most worrying phenomena of the tech-related violence, Dhyta said, was that it was often dismissed as it was merely virtually and law enforcers rarely took such threats seriously.

"I have received several rape threats. However, I cannot be sure whether the threats are serious," she said.

Dytha said Internet users should take several measures to protect themselves by creating strong passwords, being cautious in sharing private information, being wary of viruses, software updates and phishing emails to access valuable personal data, as well as regularly erasing their browsing history.

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