Three out of four women who use the internet are victims of cybercrimes, but only 23% of cases are reported to the authorities
The number of cybercrimes, particularly on social media site Facebook, is rising alarmingly in the port city of Chittagong.
According to the Chittagong Metropolitan Police (CMP), 1,630 cybercrime complaints were lodged between January and August of this year. Among them, more than 800 complaints were disposed of.
On average, the CMP's Detective Branch receives seven to eight Facebook-related complaints per day. On most occasions, the victims are women.
Police sources said they are not equipped with the technology or training necessary to combat cyber crimes.
On August 26, the CMP formed a committee to keep suspicious accounts on Facebook under surveillance, under the order of CMP Commissioner Mahabubur Rahman. If any person lodges a complaint of online harassment, then Facebook authorities are informed through the police headquarters. Later, the Facebook ID of the accused is deactivated.
CMP Additional Deputy Commissioner Abu Bakkar Siddique said on most occasions, the victims are women.
In one incident, a female college student in Chittagong befriended a person claiming to be a businessman on Facebook. Two months into the friendship, the “businessman” threatened to spread an obscene, photo-shopped image of the student online.
The victim lodged a written complaint regarding the matter with CMP Detective Branch on August 10. Ten days later, police confirmed that the harasser was not a businessman, and deactivated the Facebook ID.
In a similar incident last year, a woman filed a case with the Chandgaon police station after a man befriended her on Facebook, and later threatened to circulate distorted images of her which were taken during their video chats if she did not pay him.
The 38-year-old woman paid the blackmailer Tk38 lakh in three instalments, but he spread the photos anyway after she refused to pay more. The harasser was later arrested by police.
73% women face cybercrimes
Last year, then state minister for telecom Tarana Halim said almost three out of four women who use the internet are victims of cybercrimes, but only 23% of cases were reported to the authorities.
Tarana further said that 49% of school-going students face cyberbullying.
Cybercrimes include cyberstalking, morphing and obscene publication, email/profile hacking, spoofing, cyberpornography including revenge porn, internet voyeurism, cyberdefamation, cyberbullying, e-mail harassment, cyberblackmailing and threatening, emotional cheating by impersonation, intimate partner violence through internet and the abetting of such offences.
According to the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), at present there are 66,700,000 internet users in Bangladesh. Among them, 84% are aged between 18 and 34.
Militants using Facebook
On January 1 this year, police arrested two militants with 10 grenades and two suicide vests, after raiding at a house at Madarbari area under the Sadarghat police station in Chittagong.
The militants were identified as Ashfaqur Rahman, 21 and Raqibul Hassan, 20.
During the primary interrogation, the militants said they became involved with militant activities through a person named Don on Facebook. Under his directives, the two decided to carry out a suicide attack onthe Sadarghat police station. The arrestees do not know Don in person.
The officer-in-charge of the Sadarghat police station was a woman at the time, and the militants chose the station to send the message that they did not like women in positions of power.