THE ACTIVIST: Nighat Dad is the Executive Director of the Digital Rights Foundation, a lawyer, and human rights activist campaigning for digital freedom of expression and privacy for women, minorities, and dissidents in Pakistan and around the globe.
THE CONTEXT: Calls to the Digital Rights Foundation increased by 50% following the “honor killing” of social media star and cultural commentator, Qandeel Baloch – an escalation of already intense levels of online harassment against women. Women feared they could be killed for their online activities or even for owning a phone. In response, Nighat launched a Helpline to assist women in planning for their safety before, during, and after an online attack.
THE IMPACT: UAF’s grant has been instrumental in helping the Digital Rights Foundation establish an innovative Cyber Harassment Helpline. The Helpline gives free, secure, and confidential digital security assistance, legal advice, emotional support, and referrals to victims harassed in online spaces. UAF’s support helped the Digital Rights Foundation realize its dream of institutionalizing its support to victims of online harassment and setting a precedent for the entire region.
“By going online, Pakistani women empower themselves. However, by doing so they are subject to physical and virtual violence and vulnerable to hacking, harassment, and blackmail. We must work together to fight these inequalities.”