Sat. Feb 24th, 2024

After her spouse relocated to Saudi Arabia for employment, 27-year-old Fadya Salman resorted to sending nude photos to him from their residence in the Yemeni capital Sana’a. It was a way to stay in touch. But then, thieves took her phone. They demanded her company to prevent the publication of the photographs. She declined. As a result, her family says her father forced her brother to murder her in 2022 in an honor killing. Yemeni activist Mokhtar Abdel Moez says that the majority of women who have fallen victim to sextortion in Yemen have been coerced into prostitution, divorce, murder, and suicide. His nonprofit, Sanad, has received 17,000 cybercrime reports, about 6,000 of which involved sextortion. Although this issue is widespread, the cases in the cybercrime statistics have been minimal. Qawem Founder Mohamed El-Yamani believes that the number of sextortion cases is much higher than the reported figures. He stated that Qawem has intervened in 4,000 cases by threatening to expose the perpetrators’ actions and convincing the families to report them to authorities. In a situation where a girl’s photos were shared online, Qawem managed to convince the blackmailer to remove the content from the internet, as well as convince the girl’s father to allow her to return to school. The patriarchal system in some Middle Eastern countries perpetuates the problem. Yemeni Women’s Union board member Fawzia el-Meressi argued that Yemen does not have laws addressing sextortion, and even if it did, patriarchal abuse of women would continue. Omaima, whose name has also been altered for her safety, connected with a man online who threatened to send inappropriate photos to her husband when she refused to engage with him. Her husband subsequently divorced her without hearing her out.

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