India had an estimated 250 Mn social network users in 2017. This base is projected to grow to over 336.7 Mn in next three years. The internet, in any case, is all-pervasive in our lives today. It’s a part of our daily lives right from engaging with our loved ones to hailing a cab or ordering groceries. Technology has made inroads into almost everything we do.
With this rapid growth, there are also certain obvious & several underlying problems that will need to be tackled; the biggest one being that of Cyber Harassment. This is the problem Akancha Against Harassment (AAH) is fighting aggressively. Haptik contributes to this initiative by building a unique chatbot on their website.
AAH has two clear objectives –
Educate & empower people with cyber safety
Build a bridge between victims/the general public & authorities.
What will the Haptik powered chatbot do?
Give basic information with regards to cyber safety
Inform people about upcoming workshops
Support of authorities for Chatbot
AAH has to its credibility, support from various state/city police for any complaints coming from their respective regions. For example, Uttar Pradesh has a Women Power Line- 1090. This anti stalking helpline for women & children has handled about 1.5 crore calls in last 4 years & successfully closed over 98% complaints.
In their continued commitment & collaboration with AAH, any serious complaints from Uttar Pradesh triggered on chatbot will immediately get shared with the senior police officers of the state. They will then address the same at local level. This helps build a robust ecosystem for AAH chatbot.
AAH is working with several other state law enforcement authorities to extend this circle of support.
Akancha Srivastava, Founder, AAH said, “We don’t realize how big this problem is until we ourselves or someone close to us gets impacted. Cyber harassment leads to serious offline crimes like – sexual assaults, stalking, blackmailing & more. Let me share a few startling statistics:
• 82 percent of sexual crimes online are against minors
• 56 percent of children solicited online are asked for a picture
• Children are reported to show signs of depression when bullied online or sexted
Over 70% women online have reported being harassed at some point. And yet only (in 2015), 11,592 cases were registered – even though an increase of 20% in the registration of cases from the previous year – and 8121 persons arrested.
What we hugely lack is education. We often do not know the real definition of harassment. There’s not enough awareness about our rights & laws. This leads to helplessness in victims & feeling of despair at an already traumatic time of harassment.
This chatbot powered by Haptik serves the purpose of providing information, guiding victims through the first steps of intervention, redirecting them to the right resources & I personally speak to any victims who may trigger an SOS on it.
It’s my constant endeavour through AAH to educate & empower people about cyber safety, how to approach the police, basic rights, Indian laws & more. It’s also my effort to give voice to the victims who should stand up & speak up. Don’t let any abuser get away for fear of shame in society. We are all in this together & we will make the online space safe for everyone.”
Elaborating further, Aakrit Vaish, Co-founder and CEO, Haptik, said, “The cyber world, albeit the most common platform of communication today, has a dark side to it. From bullying, mental agony, exploitation to sexual harassment, the cyber world opens up a plethora of possibilities to compromise a person’s integrity. AAH has been doing some great work to fight this menace and it has even received praise from several governmental and non-governmental organizations, including the Inspector General, UP Police. We have developed the chatbot to further support AAH’s efforts, and make it easier for people to ask questions and get answers to sensitive cyber safety issues. We hope this chatbot helpline will help reduce some of the fear that has been instilled in people about interactions on the Internet.”