KOCHI: When Parry Aftab, a pioneer in the US to launch anti-cyberbullying movement nearly two decades back, received a LinkedIn request from Manoj Abraham, IG, Thiruvananthapuram, and the nodal officer of Cyber Dome, inviting her to provide training and suggestions on making the the digital world safer for children here, she did not think twice.
"Wherever I meet Indians, be it in New York, Canada, Hong Kong or UK, more often than not they happen to be from Kerala. I don't know why," she chuckles, in a telephonic interaction from Mumbai.
Aftab is no ordinary person. She is the founder of Wired Safety, a leading US-based child advocacy group, who is much-sought after by global regulators and policy makers for implementing anti-cyberbullying strategies and awareness among children and parents. She quit her high-paying mergers & acquisition lawyer's job in Wall Street in 1998 do chart a different path where the children are safer in the cyberspace. "I quit the job in Wall Street when I happened to see an image of a sexually abused child on the Internet. I started looking for the child without any success. But, I found many other such kids and were able to rescue them," she says. Aftab launched Wired Safety that year itself and is now popular as the 'kids Internet lawyer'. Aftab will be spending three days in Thiruvananthapuram from Monday, including a visit to the Cyber Dome on Tuesday and an interaction with the students of Government High School, Pattom, and another school at Chempaka.
IG Manoj Abraham told 'Express' that Kerala Police will use Aftab's expertise in curbing cyber-bullying cases, which have risen substantially in the recent past. "When I came across her profile I invited her to help Cyber Dome, which is a public-private initiative in the domain of cyber security," Abraham explains.
Aftab says Wired Safety will conduct a training programme in Kerala to the students, parents and teachers in effectively tackling and countering cyber threats against the children.
More importantly, Kerala has also been selected among the five cities in the country where Wired Safety would run a pilot against cyber-bullying. The other cities where the pilot will be implemented are Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru. "I want to convey that we have solutions for cyber-bullying," she adds.
Aftab says there are rising incidents of a girls photos with their clothes off surfacing on the Internet spoiling their lives. "In the US, the girls' life may be ruined for a year or two while in India similar cases would end up in revenge killings or suicides," she explains, stressing the need to act against cyber-threats.
"I expect little Kerala to lead not only the country but the entire South Asia region in implementing anti-cyberbullying strategies," Aftab winds up.