Cyberbullying and the damage it causes to the mental health of youth, particularly girls, has become a problem not only in Bangladesh but worldwide. Without stopping that, there will be no harmony in the digital domain. Attending the Peace Talk Café, held on 28 November in Dhaka, a group of young people shared their views with eminent personalities.
Peace Talk Café is an initiative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as part of its continuous effort to build an environment conducive to use social media by youth. UNDP is also running a campaign called Digital Khichuri Challenge, inviting ideas from youth to create a peaceful and inclusive society.
Addressing the youth, Sudipto Mukerjee, Resident Representative, UNDP Bangladesh, said, “The cyber space is becoming increasingly gendered. We now have phenomenon such as “sextortion” which is polluting our cyber space. Unfortunately, women are on the receiving end of cyber bullying for the most part. It is up to us to regulate the cyber space and ensure that it remains as a safe space for the women, men and children alike. There is a need for the government’s intervention but at the same time we all need to act sensibly and responsibly in digital spaces”
Iffat Ara Eva, Program Analyst, UN Women, advocated for channeling the spirit of the 16 Days of Activism. She reiterated that people need to be taught about the safe use of Internet from an individual level. “To improve women’s agency, we must teach them to protest and raise their voice against cyber bullying” she mentioned when talking about the role we can play to combat this issue.
“A cyber space free from bullying and hate speech should be a human right”, said Rakhshanda Rukham, Chairperson, PreneurLab. She mentioned that people are still not familiar with social media etiquette, and that’s why bullying and fake news spreads so rapidly.
“Comedy and humour can be a very effective conduit to speak against hate speech and cyber bullying”, expressed Standup Comedian and Columnist Naveed Mahbub. “Humour engages the target group more than seminars and stereotypical events can. It helps better retain the message because the humour ingrains it in the minds of the audience”, he said.
Sharing her experience, Raba Khan, a popular social media personality in Bangladesh said “The scariest thing about the internet is how permanent the content in it is. You can never really delete it, people have screenshots. Any content that might have disturbed you personally somehow can always make its way back”.