Police must help female victims of cybercrimes

They must be proactive and respond quickly to complaints

It is quite concerning that women and children are increasingly becoming victims of cybercrimes despite there being multiple platforms and dedicated law enforcement units to protect them. What is even more worrying is that women victims are not getting the help they need from police after lodging complaints. Several victims have told The Daily Star that they lodged complaints to the Police Cyber Support for Women (PCSW) under the Police Headquarters, but to no avail.

According to an estimate, from November 16, 2020 to November 16, 2021, at least 12,641 complaints were filed with the police unit dedicated to combating cybercrimes. However, a survey conducted by CyberLine, a voluntary organisation, has found that complaints filed by around 83.98 percent of female victims were left unaddressed. This just shows the level of inaction or inefficiency of the members of the police unit in charge of curbing these crimes.

As women and children are exploited, blackmailed or bullied in the cyberspace, they feel left alone when police – which are duty-bound to help them – do not do so, and when their families blame them for the situations they find themselves in. Such attitudes from society and family make it harder for women to share their issues or file complaints for a solution. Moreover, as law enforcers fail to take action against the offenders, the latter get emboldened to continue with their horrendous activities.

The level of cybercrimes in the recent past has increased so much that it seems anyone using social media platforms can, in fact, fall victim to such crimes. According to CyberLine, 79 percent of social media users are being affected. The question is, what can or should be done to make cyberspace safe for the users?

While raising awareness among internet and mobile phone users – particularly women and children – is of course a vital step to address the issue, breaking the culture of victim-blaming is also equally important. However, the biggest responsibility to check these crimes falls on our law enforcers. From the current state of events, we can assume that they do not have the necessary training or even a proper monitoring mechanism to deal with the evolving nature of cybercrimes. Unless they develop an advanced system to check these crimes as well as expedite their response time to cater to the needs of the victims, we cannot hope to see a change in the situation anytime soon. We urge the authorities to take proper steps with the urgency that this situation deserves.