The Internet Society Palestine Chapter project “Online Sexual Harassment-and-Blackmail Awareness for Palestinian Schoolgirls (iSHA)” has been selected as a World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Prizes 2019 Champion for the Category “Building confidence and security in use of ICTs”.
On Tuesday 9 April, the project was honored by the United Nations International Telecommunication Union (ITU) during the WSIS Forum 2019 in Geneva. In its eighth edition, the WSIS Prizes received a record number of 1,140 submissions, out of which 1,062 exceptional projects were nominated for WSIS Prizes 2019. This is the third consecutive year that the work of the Internet Society community has been recognized by the WSIS Prizes.
Supported by the Internet Society Foundation and its Beyond the Net Grant Programme, the Palestine Chapter project helps Palestinian young female students protect themselves from cyberattacks.
Each day, the Palestinian Justice Authority receives dozens of complaints of cyber attacks, though these are thought to represent a small percentage of the actual number of cases. In Palestine, even discussion of these topics in public could be viewed as a violation of customs and traditions. But statistics show that students who experience cyberattacks suffer a decline in their school grades and have more suicidal thoughts than those who had never dealt with these forms of peer aggression.
The Palestine Chapter initiative aimed to reduce cases of electronic blackmail and sexual harassment among 15-16 years old girls by raising awareness of the issue and providing skills to help them stay safe online. The training by volunteer university female students has reached 4,200 students in the Palestinian cities and villages in the West Bank.
Eman, a 14-year old trainee said: “I am shocked by the stories I have heard during the training. I didn’t know how dangerous were many things I used to do, and how I was risking to lose my reputation and even my life.”
Key to the success of the project was the collaboration with the Palestine Ministry of Education in selecting schools from rural areas where electronic blackmail and harassment cases are highly registered. Leaflets and awareness materials, prepared in cooperation with the Electronic Crimes Unit of the Palestinian Police, were also distributed.
The output of the project was evaluated by a questionnaire that reflected high satisfaction and an increase in awareness of online sexual harassment risks among the girls. The project team received many invitations from schools and organizations to conduct training sessions in different Palestinian cities. The Palestine Chapter is now planning to expand the scope of the project so that more students can be involved.
Congratulations to the Palestine Chapter on this outstanding achievement.
Watch the project video:
Internet Society Palestine Chapter link to the project