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India can help make cyber world level playing field

Security concept: computer keyboard with word Cyber Crime, selected focus on enter button background, 3d render

New Delhi: Being a regional power that has huge internet consumer base, India can play a key role in ushering a ‘democratic’ cyber space, a senior Swedish official has said.

According to Maja Fjaestad, state Secretary to Minister for Strategic Development and Nordic Cooperation of Sweden, issues like cyber bullying and harassment of women subscribers were universal and India should pro-actively participate in addressing these issues.

“The problems and issues faced by female internet users in Sweden are the same as faced by female users here in India. We have been raising these issues but if India too pushes them, it would mean a lot,” Fjaestad, who calls herself a cyber feminist, told IANS on the sidelines of a conference here.

Cyberspace is home to almost the same percentage of women (47 percent) as men (53 percent), but women are twice as likely to face sexual harassment online.

As the online and offline environments are fundamentally intertwined, gender-based power structures have real-world implications regardless of platform.

According to Fjaestad, in countries with a rapidly growing internet user base, governments, businesses and civil societies should devise strategies to effectively address cyber bullying and gender based violence.

On the issue of net neutrality, Fjaestad said her country was for net neutrality. “If information has to be prioritised at all, it should be on the basis of purpose, not for the sake of money,” she said.

Fjaestad said Sweden was also seeking greater cooperation with India on other fronts including trade as there was “so much common interest” involved.


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Bullying and other forms of Victimization can Damage School Climate, says New Study

According to the study, bullying, cyber bullying and harassment were significantly associated with decreases in perceptions of school safety, connection, and equity

The new study suggests that female and transgender students are more vulnerable to multiple forms of victimization. Wikimedia

New York, October 8, 2017 :  Researchers have found that all forms of victimization – bullying, cyber bullying and harassment – can damage the entire school climate.

The study, published in the Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, measured the impact of poly-victimization – exposure to multiple forms of victimization – on school climate at the middle- and high-school levels.

ALSO READ Childhood bullying may have lifelong Health effects related to chronic stress exposure

The results showed that bullying, cyber bullying and harassment were significantly associated with decreases in perceptions of school safety, connection, and equity.

“For each form of victimization, school climate measures go down precipitously, so if we only center the conversation about kids who are being bullied that limits it to ‘that’s not my kid’,” said study author Bernice Garnett, Associate Professor at University of Vermont in the US.

“But if we change the conversation to bullying can actually damage the entire school climate, then that motivates and galvanises the overall will of the school community to do something about it,” Garnett added.

Based on data from the 2015 Vermont Middle and High School Pilot Climate Survey, the findings highlight the need for comprehensive policies that address all forms of victimization to offset further erosion to safe and equitable school environments, which is tied to educational outcomes.

Overall, 43.1 per cent of students experienced at least one form of victimization during the 2015-2016 school year.

Just over 32 per cent of students reported being bullied, 21 percent were victims of cyber bullying and 16.4 per cent experienced harassment – defined as “experiencing negative actions from one or more persons because of his or her skin, religion, where they are from (what country), sex, sexual identity or disability.”

Prior research had shown that students from vulnerable populations are most frequently victimized.

The new study found female and transgender students were more vulnerable to poly-victimization. (IANS)


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Women Living in Countries with Gender Equality have better Cognitive Test Scores: Study

A research on how gender equality affects women's cognitive functioning?

Countries with gender equality have women with better cognitive functioning
Countries with gender equality have women with better cognitive functioning. Pixabay
  • The findings indicate women’s cognitive functioning past middle age can get affected with the degree of gender equality in the country in which they are living
  • This research is a first attempt to shed light on important, but understudied, adverse consequences of gender inequality on women’s health in later life
  • Sweden came out as a country with the highest female advantage in cognitive performance and Ghana as the country with the highest male advantage

Washington D.C. (USA), August 2, 2017: The results of one of its kind study highlighted the ill effects of gender inequality on women’s health in later life.

The findings indicate women’s cognitive functioning (cerebral activities that lead to knowledge, including all means and mechanisms of acquiring information like reasoning, memory, attention, and language that can lead directly to the attainment of information and, thus, knowledge) past middle age can get affected with the degree of gender equality in the country in which they are living.

According to the ANI Report, researcher, and lead author on the study, Eric Bonsang, explains,  “This research is a first attempt to shed light on important, but understudied, adverse consequences of gender inequality on women’s health in later life.” He holds a Ph.D., of University Paris-Dauphine and Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Bonsang said that it shows that women living in countries with gender equality have better cognitive test scores later in life when compared to women living in gender-unequal societies. Moreover, in countries that became more sensitive to gender equality over time, women’s cognitive performance improved relative to male counterparts.

ALSO READ: Gender Equality Charter Soon to be Launched in India

The researchers analyzed the cognitive performance data of participants aged between 50 and 93, drawn from multiple nationally representative surveys such as the US Health and Retirement Study, Europe’s Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement, the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, and the World Health Organization Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health. When all the above-mentioned surveys were taken together, they provided data for a total of 27 countries.

Bonsang and his colleagues Vegard Skirbekk of Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health and Norwegian Institute of Public Health, and Ursula Staudinger, director of the Columbia Aging Center noted that the difference in men’s and women’s scores on cognitive tests had wide variation across countries.

In Northern European countries, women tend to perform better than men on memory tests, while it’s the opposite case with several Southern European countries. “This observation triggered our curiosity to try to understand what could cause such variations across countries,” said Ursula Staudinger, Ph.D., who is also Robert N. Butler Professor of Sociomedical Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health.

Also Read: Gender Equality: When will women be treated on par with men?


Though economic and socioeconomic factors are likely to play a crucial role, Bonsang, Skirbekk, and Staudinger also studied about sociocultural factors such as attitudes about gender roles and if that might also contribute to the variation seen in gender differences in cognitive performance around the world.

The hypothesis was that the women who live in a society with Orthodox attitudes about gender roles would likely to be having lesser access to opportunities for education and employment and would, thus, show lower cognitive performance later in life compared with men of the same age.

All of the surveys included an episodic memory task to measure cognitive performance. Participants were asked to respond to a list of 10 words and were asked to recall as many words as they could immediately; in some surveys, participants were asked to recall the words after a delay also. In addition, some surveys included a task given in order to assess executive function in which participants were asked to name as many animals as they could within one minute.

To examine gender-role attitudes, the researchers focused on participants’ self-reported agreement with the statement- “When jobs are scarce, men should have more right to a job than women.”

Overall, the data showed considerable variation in gender differences and resulting cognitive performance based on it, across different countries. In some countries, women outperformed men; Sweden came out as a country with the highest female advantage in cognitive performance. But in other countries, men outperformed women; In Ghana, the male advantage was the highest.

The researchers hypothesized was proven true that women in countries with less traditional attitudes were likely to have better cognitive performance later in life compared to women in more traditional countries.

Bonsang and his colleagues also noted a good point that changes in gender-role attitudes within a country over time were associated with changes in women’s cognitive performance relative to men.


“Although the data have a correlation, several more detailed examination point towards a causal relationship. The analysis also suggests that gender-role attitudes may play a notable role in important outcomes for women across different countries,” according to the researchers.

Bonsang said, “These findings strengthened the need for policies aiming at reducing gender inequalities as we show that consequences go beyond the labor market and income inequalities.” He also said that it also shows how important it is to take in notice that seemingly intangible influences, such as cultural attitudes and values, when trying to understand cognitive aging.”

The finding of the above research is published online in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

– prepared by Kritika Dua of NewsGram. Twitter @DKritika08

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Is Trolling Women on Social Media a New Cult?

Living in a country where freedom of speech is appreciated, it is disheartening to detect such a condemning outlook towards someone's thoughts and actions.

Representational Image, Pixabay

– by Naina Mishra

April 09, 2017: Social media is not only confined to building relationships these days but on the other side of the purview, it has unfolded into a platform to hoist a voice on issues which is of an individuals’ concern. However, a bizarre trend on social media insinuates that trolling women on the internet has become a leisure exercise for most of the misanthropists. Women are prone to the heightened rates of physical threats and harassment which is deemed as ‘common’ to their male peers in general.

Moreover, anonymity is also the reason which allows abuse to flourish in cyberspace. Out of the myriads of reason in the rear of amorality at virtual space, one of them could be apprehended as the tendency to spurn the opinions propagated by women on social media and retaliation by men owing to the bigoted behavior.

A study conducted by Pew Research center states that Women are predisposed to see online harassment as traumatic as compared to men. Nearly four-in-ten (38%) women who experienced it found it extremely or very upsetting compared with 17% of men.

Besides, the survey by Pew research also concluded that half of those harassed online do not know who is behind the online harassment. 38% said it was a stranger and 26% said they didn’t know the real identity of the person.

I, Naina Mishra (Reporter, Newsgram) spoke to Mr. Jitendra Mohan, President of Asia-Pacific Association of Psychology and Editor-in-Chief of Indian Journal of Psychology concerning the rampant problem in cyberspace.

“The Internet is a very uncertain system which has overtaken the other system of communication. Many people feel much empowered by disparaging the other person whereas it becomes a paralyzing situation for the person who receives it. I believe women are the basic foundation of our culture but such things are only preached and not implemented in our society. Some of the people who use the internet are poorer people and feel greater about themselves when they hurt someone on the internet. However, Greatness lies in respecting yourself, respecting others and communicating at a higher level,” said Jitendra Mohan on the violent behavior of men towards women on the internet.

Mr. Mohan further accentuated by saying, “How we react to our sisters and how we react to the girl who is a stranger to us is imbibed right in the beginning of the childhood. The sense of taking women as granted carries on for an indefinite period of time and manifested on the internet.”

The handicap of hostility plays a major role. When they do not get a chance to speak directly they find hidden means to display their anger, says Mr. Mohan.

Hurting women is a classic example of the low self-concept, bad child rearing and low values of culture. Trolling, hurting, sending bad messages happens in the wake of anonymity and no sense of fear of getting caught.

Opportunely we find women not accepting this medium of communication and they have started reacting to it, which is a right thing to do. Not accepting such hostile invasion on their individuality is very important.

“Trolling is condemnable and people who take up such activities should get their cognizance and abnormality checked. A man is great when he respects a woman and not by hurting women” remarked Mr. Jitendra Mohan, Professor Emeritus of Psychology.

He also presented a message for the women who find it difficult to sustain in virtual space.

“Trolling affects the victims’ life in many depressing ways. She does not have to succumb to the attacks. She needs to understand that she is being vilified by the wrong people. Her body, mind and her way of life cannot be attacked by anybody because it is defined by her. Do not let anyone intervene in your private affair. It is better not to confront to the hooligans. Bullies make you stronger. Reiterate – You can’t dictate me, you can’t define me and by no chance can you demolish me.”

Sight of Violent Trolling-

Excerpts from the victims by Pew research survey;

Kavita Krishnan, a well-known Delhi-based women’s activist was attacked sadistically during an online chat subjected to violence against women on ‘’.

“One person, with the handle @RAPIST, started posting abusive comments. He then asked me where he could come to rape me using a condom” told Kavita to BBC News.

Sagarika Ghose, a popular journalist who anchors prime-time bulletins on CNN-IBN and writes for a leading newspaper was threatened regularly with the gang rape and stripping on Twitter.

“Targeting me for my journalism is fine. But when it is sexist and foul-mouthed abuse which insults my gender identity I get incredibly angry. In the beginning, I used to retaliate, but that would lead to more abuse” told Sagarika Ghose to BBC News.

Another incident of the kind was reported recently where the History Honors student of Miranda House College returned home from the concert in an upbeat state of mind, just to find semen stains on the pants she had been wearing. She then recalled a man standing behind her at the show and touching her, however she at first overlooked it thinking it to be accidental. After a while, she realized that the guy didn’t back off until then. The matter further soared and alarmed by an “odor”, she pushed him away.


A screenshot of the Victim profile from the facebook
A person has uploaded a trolled image posted by the girl on the timeline about a sensitive issue

Internet – such a brilliant conception. Wouldn’t it have been great if we were able to uphold the very essence of it in an optimistic sense? The first few years saw an unfettered world of internet exclusive of the hostility and crimes, however, such is not the status now. Trolling women on the internet has become a new cult and many of us tend to appreciate it and derive sadistic pleasures out of it. Little do we realize the consequences of lewd remarks passed on to someone’s face, body, profession or even for that matter – opinions of a woman which are unaccepted by the intolerant men. 

Living in a country where freedom of speech is appreciated, it is disheartening to detect such a condemning outlook towards someone’s thoughts and actions.

– by Naina Mishra of Newsgram, Twitter: Nainamishr94