Challenging the challenges!

Fariha Akhtar
Posted October 5, 2010 from Pakistan

One of our mentors asked, what is it that is unique about each one of you other than your DNA, finger prints that makes you different from everyone else? The room fell silent. Something popped up in my mind and I said, “Aren’t we as a whole unique?” “You got it right lady”, he said and then asked all of us to imagine for a minute that there is no one else in this ENTIRE world who has the exact same set of qualities that each one of us has. Mighty satisfaction is what we felt and this very satisfaction has helped me brave the various challenges that I have come across in my life. Talking about female harassment which often has sexual aspect associated to it, is considered a taboo subject in Pakistan. Also, many believe it is mere noise away from reality, that is created by NGOs so that they can raise more and more money. When we launched TakeBackTheTech Campaign in Pakistan, we faced cynicism too, however, in order to show how grave the situation is, we support our content with current VAW incidents. We tweet aggressively regarding any/every VAW issue we come across so that our cries for justice reach more and more people. This in turn encourages others to talk about their personal experiences related to VAW too helping us break the silence online.

Working with ICTs, you do not just have to deal with social barriers but technical challenges as well. There are millions of people who blog and tweet but we usually want to come up with something that gets the due attention. We create songs, we host online meetups to discuss cyber-harassment. We customize TakeBackTheTech logos for different occasions encouraging people to use them as their display pictures. All this often helps our content stand out.

Another challenge was to let people who do not use Internet but other forms of technology and are subjected to techno-harassment, know about ways to combat it. For that, the campaign has been taken beyond Internet, I regularly write articles on techno-harassment/privacy issues in print media, last year I did a radio-show on the subject and other team mates did TV shows as well. This year, we plan to take it further through more creative channels such as art, theater, multi-lingual content i.e. publishing content in regional languages and online as well as offline one-one counseling sessions etc.

I plan to use PulseWire as not just another platform for creating awareness but also as a community who can add to the collective wisdom. Very often we need legal experts, we need activists with knowledge about ground realities, we need artists, graphic designers, web developers, white hat hackers, singers, music composers and more than anything else HUMANS who feel the pain of those who are suffering and can join hands to help them. I believe PulseWire will help me find all of these!

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Comments 3

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  • Iffat Gill
    Oct 06, 2010
    Oct 06, 2010

    I am very interested in your work via TBTT project and what you are doing to raise information about the cases that you come across during your work. I am interested to know if you work directly with women who have had issues online. How do you approach those women? I think a set-up of like a complaint cell (an online portal) would be a good idea where people can report the issues they faced and in this way, a database can be created for future reference and research purposes. would be nice to talk more about it with you. Best, Rose.

  • Julie Tomlin
    Oct 09, 2010
    Oct 09, 2010

    are obviously some of the qualities that are part of the unique you. They really come across in your writing and I am impressed by the energy and determination that you have shown in dealing with this difficult issue.

  • Greta
    Oct 10, 2010
    Oct 10, 2010


    First let me say thank you for the work you are doing and for having strong conviction to use new technology to continue to raise awareness around the world. I loved your use of the words "mighty satisfaction", and I plan on taking those words forward with me as I navigate my own path, trying to make my difference in the world. I know when I find myself feeling "mighty satisfaction" I will have tapped into something very real!

    I admire your work and your writing. Thank you for inspiring me and so many others.

    In Kindness,