LAHORE: The Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) has launched a pro bono online portal for women seeking legal representation and psychological counselling in cases of harassment and gender-based violence. The website works by linking victims/survivors to helpful resources and connecting them with qualified and experienced pro bono lawyers so they receive all the help they need to combat the cycle of violence and abuse.
In light of the #MeToo movement worldwide and the national conversation surrounding harassment, an unprecedented number of women have been coming forward to share their experiences of gender-based violence and abuse.
“The #MeToo movement has opened the floodgates for women’s testimonies and stories; it has also shown us the true scale of the problem as it stands in Pakistan as well as around the world. Institutional support and resources are needed to provide both legal and mental health support to survivors of harassment,” DRF Executive Director Nighat Dad said.
The aim of this portal is to help women who want to take legal action against their harassers but are discouraged to do so due to the inaccessibility of resources. The portal (https://abaurnahin.pk/) currently has over 42 lawyers from across Pakistan out of which 26 are women lawyers and the portal hopes to expand its database to include more professionals with the passage of time.
The network of lawyers is built across Pakistan to ensure that women from different geographical destinations can approach them without any hassle. The Cyber Harassment Helpline established by DRF in 2016 has received 2302 calls over a period of two years regarding incidents of gender-based violence and harassment.
The DRF is a registered research-based advocacy non-governmental organisation in Pakistan. Founded by Nighat Dad in 2012, DRF focuses on ICTs to support human rights, inclusiveness, democratic processes, and digital governance. DRF works on issues of online free speech, privacy, data protection and online violence against women.