A female schoolteacher of a small village in Kharian has set a shining example for other victims of cybercrime by refusing to make an out-of-court settlement with the man who uploaded her objectionable pictures on Facebook to blackmail her.

The cybercrime suspect and his family, along with the village elders pressured her to back down from the fight for the sake of her honour. But her persistent standing against the criminal got him a two-year imprisonment and a fine of Rs30, 000. The suspect, Yasir, who lived in her locality, first hacked her Facebook account and threatened to upload her ‘morphed’ pictures if she did not develop relations with him. On her refusal, he uploaded the pictures, after which she approached FIA Lahore that investigated the matter and arrested him.

The new cybercrime law – the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act – since its introduction in the country in August last, has received much flak for its stifling take on digital rights. Yet for incidences of cybercrime harassment, as in the case of this brave young woman and her struggle to get justice, such a law was more than necessary. Under the new cyber law, the offence related to the modesty of a person like superimposing a photograph of a person over any sexually explicit image or video to harm his/her reputation or to take revenge or blackmail is punishable by up to five-year jail or a fine of Rs5 million.

The societal pressures to withdraw such complaints or to make out-of-court settlements is too great to overcome in most situations, and it is highly commendable that this woman broke the cycle of shame and blackmail to fight for her rights. Pakistan’s first cyber harassment helpline was launched on December 1, by the Digital Rights Foundation (DRF), and the government can work with the civil society to make justice accessible to all victims of cybercrime.