The digital arena in Yemen is frequently inundated with misinformation targeting working women, notably those engaged in local and international organizations. This false information tarnishes their reputations and often escalates to outright incitement against them. Nevertheless, Yemeni women remain resilient and committed to their commendable work.
Despite the existence of platforms specializing in debunking false claims, numerous journalists and activists have helped perpetuate rumours and misinformation about Yemeni women employed in organizations. This disregard for the social and economic ramifications of undermining Yemeni women and their exceptional efforts since the onset of war in the country persists.
This account had circulated a series of allegations against women engaged in organizations, suggesting various ethical violations. Furthermore, the platform shut down over 24 fake accounts and removed 75 posts designed to deceive people and garner profits on Facebook. The platform's editor-in-chief, A.A., confirmed that all these accounts used fictitious female names and profile photos of veiled women.
Yemeni activist and sociology professor at Taiz University, Dr Olfat Al-Dobai, confronted a personal incitement campaign due to her participation in the campaign #Passport_Without_Guardianship along with numerous Yemeni activists. This campaign surfaced after Yemeni authorities banned granting Yemeni women passports without their male guardians' consent.
As part of the campaign against Al-Dobai, writer and politician Adel Al-Shuja'a penned an article on his personal Facebook page, accusing Al-Dobai of endorsing immorality, homosexuality, and undermining family values. He also charged her with fostering division between spouses and corrupting society under the guise of freedom.
"Navigating the complexities
of the legal proceedings was
In retaliation, Al-Dobai lodged a lawsuit against Al-Shuja'a in the Egyptian judiciary, where she lives. Similarly, she initiated a case in the Public Prosecution in Ma'rib against Saif Al-Hadari, the editor-in-chief of Akhbar Al-Yawm newspaper, which published an article by writer Mohammed Mustafa Al-Amrani vilifying and attacking Al-Dobai as a feminist activist affiliated with civil society organizations.
Sharing her encounter with the judicial process, Al-Dobai discussed her experience during an online session organized by the Cultural Media Center (CMS) titled Demands for the Protection of Women and Activists from Incitement and Extortion. She stated: "Navigating the complexities of the legal proceedings against the instigators was arduous. I sincerely urge the Journalists Syndicate to take definitive actions against those journalists who participated in incitement campaigns against me while maintaining the principles and ethics of journalism."
Recently, Al-Dobai posted pictures on her Facebook account featuring her alongside Yemeni journalist Gamdan Abu Asba' and others. She noted that the photo captured the moment when Gamdan Abu Asba' apologized to her, marking their reconciliation following his previous incitement against her.
Curbing the Feminist Movement
Dr Abdul Kareem Ghanem posits that targeting Yemeni women working in organizations aligns with the interests of Yemeni authorities intent on curtailing the burgeoning feminist movement during the ongoing war. Dr Ghanem links this phenomenon to the changes brought on by the war in traditional roles, primarily dominated by men, paving the way for qualified women to engage in the emerging job market.
"These pressures involve
families compelling women
to quit their work."
According to Dr Ghanem, women workers in organizations are targeted through various means, including spreading rumours accusing these organizations of exploiting them. These actions coincided with more stringent restrictions on women's freedom of movement and escalated campaigns against organizations and their female employees.
Activist Balqis Al-Lahbi views these campaigns as isolating women and pressuring them to withdraw from societal involvement. She says, "These pressures involve families compelling women to quit their work, and in some cases, it may even escalate to physical harm."
Dr Ghanem asserts that all these campaigns aim to impose additional constraints on women. These constraints limit women's roles, contributing to the deprivation of some Yemeni families from their income. This obstruction hampers women's economic empowerment and compounds the problem of gender-based economic inequality in Yemen, undermining the modest progress achieved by Yemeni women recently.
The Impact of Interactive Platforms
Social media platforms in Yemen have become a fertile breeding ground for spreading and disseminating rumours and misleading information, serving as the primary launchpad for incitement and deception campaigns targeting Yemeni women working in organizations. Journalist Motaher Al-Kadimi attributes this to the public's lack of awareness about digital campaigns that manipulate public opinion and their limited experience using such tools to verify the information and discern the truth.
employ deceptive strategies."
Nora Aldhafiri, journalist and information verifier, elaborates: "Incitement campaigns employ deceptive strategies in disseminating information harmful to others." She further explains that the environment fostered by social media platforms has facilitated the spread of such information, making them an ideal means for these campaigns. Aldhafiri also warns about the dangers of this information, its impact on real-life situations, and its ability to create an alternative reality for those who encounter it.
Criminalizing Incitement and Deception
Yemeni law criminalizes the spread of misleading and false information, especially when it endangers a person's life and dignity. The law entitles individuals victimized by these violations to file complaints and prosecute the offenders.
"Yemeni law allows women
to file legal charges against
those who engage in such
Sara Al-Awlaqi, Legal Support Officer with Mwatana for Human Rights, asserts that "Yemeni law allows women who are targeted by incitement and deception to file legal charges against those who engage in such actions," enabling them to take the perpetrators to court after documenting these violations and identifying their nature and sources.
Human rights activist Ishraq Al-Muqatri points out that "only a small fraction of Yemeni women activists report incidents of such violations". Many choose silence, either forcefully or for other reasons, particularly given the absence of a specialized security body to handle these types of violations and the challenge of interpreting the legal text.
In the same CMS-organized event previously mentioned, Al-Muqatri proposed uniting efforts to confront incitement campaigns against women in Yemen, including providing legal support and encouraging women to report these crimes. Further, there is a need for a dedicated platform to receive reports from female activists subjected to defamation or extortion campaigns, documenting these violations with evidence to safeguard their legal rights.