Devices containing private images can become a sexist weapon in this Middle Eastern country. When a phone breaks, the user can go years without fixing it, for fear of suffering blackmail

On one summer’s day in 2022, Warda Seif roamed the streets of Yemen’s city of Aden under the blaring sun for two hours looking for a mobile phone repair shop to fix a software glitch in her device. She knew the problem could be sorted out within an hour, but when the male technicians asked her to share her password and leave the device for a day or two, she refused, and moved on to the next store.

Her refusal may seem peculiar, but the risks she dreads are grave: Yemen’s conservative society is one of the world’s worst performing countries on the Gender Inequality  Index, ranking 155 out of 156 countries in 2021. Deeply-ingrained patriarchal norms and gender roles dictate women’s choices and actions, and place women as bearers of their families’ honor, making them easy targets of extortions and blackmails.

And mobile phones store a lot  of that honor in the form of personal images and confidential information, even if these images are neither explicit nor revealing.

“Widespread IT illiteracy amongst women and their reliance on strangers to set up their emails or fix their devices makes them prone to extortionists,” said activist Mokhtar Abdel Al-Moez, founder of Sanad, a nonprofit organization with around 400 volunteer digital experts offering support to cybercrime victims since March 2020.

    • @[email protected]
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      63 months ago

      It will either fix it or likely damage it beyond being able to recover any data without highly specialized equipment… so it’s a win.

      • @disguy_ovahea
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        183 months ago

        So will a rock. lol

        Her finger is off the trigger, and the tip is on the plastic housing. I’m guessing it was a photojournalist’s suggestion for the piece.

        • @Fedizen
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          163 months ago

          this is almost certainly it. Its so funny to see people thinking this is a flub and not the obvious thing where the journalist wants an action shot.

          • @[email protected]
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            03 months ago

            We know what it is. Nobody actually thinks that she is repairing a device in this photo. If a journalist is going to stage a photo, they should at least aim for accuracy.

            • @Fedizen
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              33 months ago

              I’m not going to open up a phone with a heat gun just so some dork can get an “accurate” photo of me faking an action shot here. They made the right call here.

              • @[email protected]
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                23 months ago

                Or, you know, take a photo of someone actually doing the thing you’re reporting on. Or maybe not use a tool that isn’t used in phone repair at all.

      • Superb
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        13 months ago

        The photo is pretty blurry, are we sure it’s not an electric screwdriver?

  • Mwalimu
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    83 months ago

    Images could as well be copies of immigration documents for secretive efforts to run away from abusive family relationships or financial details for whatever plans or projects.

  • Infiltrated_ad8271
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    -343 months ago

    Extorting and profiting from private information is not sexist. Pretending that it is something that happens to women because they are women, that it doesn’t happen to men, or that only men do it, is sexist.

      • Infiltrated_ad8271
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        3 months ago

        I am addressing the journalist’s claims (starting even in the subhead), which is pertinent. If sexists don’t like it and are looking for excuses, that’s their problem.

    • @Doof
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      153 months ago

      Read the damn article you turd

    • @Mango
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      63 months ago

      While you’re right about what you’re saying, you done skipped the part that’s the problem.