SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region – A woman who fell victim to a fake lover on the social network Facebook has refused to appear on TV to express the suffering she endured at the hands of a man who had promised her marriage when they exchanged details on Facebook. Instead her friend, whom also wished for her identity to be protected, described the encounter between the two.
Her friend encountered a man on Facebook who later become her lover with promises of marrying her. But in the end it doesn’t turn out to be the way she wished. She says all the emotions the man had expressed to her were intended to snare her.
“The man might have intended marriage” the victim’s friend told Rudaw in Sulaimani. “The woman had gone out with him for a meal or gone to a park with him. She had taken photos with him who would later threaten her, asking that she should sleep with him or give him some cash otherwise he will publish her photos or videos. Due to fears of the society, her family or surroundings, the woman would get the money in any way to protect her dignity.”
She said that her friend could not tell her family because she thinks that the family would not tolerate the situation.
“You certainly don’t want that because you will think you might bring dishonor to your family, be it your father or brother who might then say they are ashamed to go out in public."
According to information obtained by Sulaimani’s police, the incidents facing women on social networking sites have turned from occasions into phenomenon. They have arrested one person in connection with these incidents. They warn about the risks facing women in this regard.
“We’ve had people coming in complaining they hadn’t been able to sleep for 3 to 4 nights due to threats they will be publishing their photos on Facebook,” Sarkawt Ahmad, spokesperson for Sulaimani police told Rudaw. “This will then become a main line of inquiry to us. We will then be trying to find the person, and we’ve found many of them in cooperation with the complainants. We have referred them to the courts, and some of them have been sentenced in accordance with relevant laws.”
According to the official figures, 173 people have filed complaints in the past four months for threats they had faced on social networking sites. Seventy percent of these complaints were filed by women.
As a result, hundreds of Kurdish women have posted pictures of themselves on Facebook using the above hashtag with messages of defiance against cyber bullies.
Lanja Xawe explained that she started the campaign following a series of abusive and harassing messages she received on Facebook.
She said, “There was one account that was constantly sending me messages online, harassing me, and they used a picture of myself. I sent them another picture in response to show them that I will not remain silent.
“I have received many of these messages, and I have not hesitated for a second. I know these people are not capable of anything.”
The picture Lanja received of herself included a message from an anonymous user, “Would you like me to belittle you?”
The Kurdish version of this carries more meaning. It refers to men who want to ostracise women by exposing them as indecent or using their pictures on social networking sites in an inappropriate way.