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‘I blamed myself’: how stigma stops Arab women reporting online abuse

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April 15, 2021 at 07:15AM

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Women in the Middle East and north Africa say social codes leave them unable to talk about social media abuse as pandemic pushes sexual harassment off the streets

The first pornographic picture sent shivers of shock through Amal as she stared in horror at the phone screen. Until now, she had responded politely to the older man who had been messaging her on Facebook, hoping to deter his questions about her life with curt, one-word replies.

More lurid pictures followed, some from pornographic magazines, others of the man himself in sexual poses. “I started to blame myself and feel that I invited this because I had replied to him,” says the 21-year-old, who is a university student in Amman, Jordan.

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