In a conservative society like Yemen, where the face of woman is not allowed to be seen by strangers, she is sometimes forced to cover her face from her fiancé. This is not because of religion but traditions and habit. Even if she publishes her picture on Facebook, it will be a disaster for her family.
Salma was a victim of this. Her husband killed her after her photo spread on social media. It was widely shared because people found her to be beautiful, and reflective of true Yemeni beauty. She committed no fault, except that she sold her phone after deleting the photos, and the next owner found the photos and uploaded it to a fake account. Salma’s husband saw the photo in an internet cafe, and stabbed her to death out of blind anger.
Astonishingly, most Yemenis who sympathize with the case side against Salma, such as Abdulmalik Mutahar.
“She shouldn’t take a photo by her phone because it is unsafe and there are still bad people. Maybe she didn’t know that the photos may be restored but this is a message for every woman.”
Yemeni writer Afrah Nasser says that female photos are a sensitive matter in Yemen. She says that on one hand, it is unacceptable to take photos of adult women without permission, especially if they are not veiled, but “on the other hand, as males are to a great extent segregated from the other sex, there is an intense curiosity towards the other sex, and misuse of any relationship between males and females.”
It is not just unauthorized photos on social media. Many Yemenis are beginning to use technology in a harassing way. Random calls are a big problem for Yemeni women, especially if they are married, because doubts will start appearing between couples. Bushra Mohammed was divorced from her husband because of a random call that occurred when her husband was home.
“He called me several times from different numbers saying that he admired my voice. The last time I canceled the call that made my husband angry for he thought I had a relationship with that man, and he divorced me because of a random call.”
Random calls cause serious psychological effects because of their social aftermath, whether loss of confidence in relationships, or destroyed families. The victim is always presumed to have done something morally deviant.
Ebtisam al-Mothana said that the biggest problem is a lack of confidence and understanding between couples and families.
“Woman is always the victim because she was not given the time to defend herself, and she receives banishment from her husband, father, brother and even uncle for something she didn’t commit and she is totally innocent of.”
According to al-Mothana Yemenis need awareness in positives and negatives of technology and also how to use it, as well as being treated more fairly in situations like this, which lead to double standards.
“People should stop practicing discrimination between boys and girls, and need to punish both with the same level of banishment or forgiveness.”