Belarus Police Detain Hundreds Of Women At Protest

A woman kneels in front of law enforcement officers during a rally to protest against the presidential election results in Minsk on September 13, 2020. Belarusians have been demonstrating against the disputed re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko for a month, with more than 100,000 people flooding the streets of Minsk for four straight weekends. TUT.BY / AFP

 

Riot police on Saturday detained hundreds of women, dragging many into vans, as opposition protesters marched through the Belarusian capital Minsk demanding an end to President Alexander Lukashenko’s rule.

The women were seized by riot police in black uniforms and balaclavas as well as officers in unmarked khaki uniforms and plain-clothed officers in face masks.

Police blocked the women and began pulling them into police vans as they stood with linked hands, swiftly detaining hundreds, an AFP journalist saw. Police lifted some women off their feet in order to remove them.

Around two thousand women took part in the “Sparkly March”, wearing shiny accessories and carrying red-and-white flags of the protest movement.

The march was the latest in a series of all-women protests calling for the strongman to leave following his disputed victory in elections last month.

His opposition rival Svetlana Tikhanovskaya also claimed the victory.

Alleged police violence and torture of detainees following the elections have prompted the European Parliament to call for sanctions against Lukashenko and other members of his regime.

– Protest With ‘Woman’s Face’ –

In a statement released ahead of the march, Tikhanovskaya, who has taken refuge in Lithuania, praised the “brave women of Belarus”.

“They are marching despite being constantly menaced and put under pressure,” she said.

The marchers chanted slogans such as “Get out, you and your riot police!” and “We believe we can win!”

One of the placards read: “Our protest has a woman’s face,” a reference to the title of a popular book by the Belarusian Nobel prize winner Svetlana Alexievich, who has backed the opposition cause.

Among those detained on Saturday was Nina Baginskaya, a 73-year-old activist who has become one of the best-known faces of the protest movement, known for her plucky antics and regularly celebrated with a chant of “Nina! Nina!”.

Police took away the flag and flowers she was carrying as they pushed her into a van but released her outside a police station shortly afterwards.

 

Riot police officers detain a woman during a rally to protest against the Belarus presidential election results in Minsk on September 19, 2020. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled the ex-Soviet state for 26 years, claimed to have defeated opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya with 80 percent of the vote in the August 9, elections. TUT.BY / AFP

 

Police detained so many protesters that they ran out of room in vans, releasing around 10 women.

Some women managed to run away and took shelter in a nearby nail bar, Tut.by news site reported.

Ambulances were called after several women became unwell during the detentions. The Belarusian Association of Journalists said that a journalist had been detained and had his nose broken.

Viasna rights group released an online list of names of 217 women detained in Minsk, saying the list was being updated.

Police have not yet given a number of detained.

The protest came as the opposition is due to hold mass demonstrations on Sunday and Tikhanovskaya will meet European Union foreign ministers and the bloc’s diplomatic chief in Brussels on Monday.

The women’s protests began in Belarus after Lukashenko’s use of extreme violence against detained demonstrators.

Women began forming human chains and marching through Minsk and other cities wearing white clothes and carrying flowers in peaceful demonstrations that police initially allowed to go ahead.

Last weekend, police violently detained several dozen at a similar women’s protest.

Lukashenko last week warned of a possible “war” with some neighbouring countries and has turned to Russia for support after refusing to step down.

Jigawa Women Contribute N1,000 To Purchase Car For Pregnancy Emergency

This vehicle was purchased by women in a Jigawa community, who contributed N1,000 each.
This vehicle was purchased by women in a Jigawa community, who contributed N1,000 each.

 

Women in the Baddo community in Taura local government area of Jigawa state have contributed N1,000 each to purchase a vehicle to transport pregnant women to the hospital during delivery.

According to the women, they contributed the money out of the conditional cash transfer introduced by the federal government.

One of the women, Halima Adamu Boddo, told Channels Television that a vehicle that was donated to them for hospital trips had broken down three years ago, opening up the need for a new vehicle.

“It is with the cash transfer that we are receiving from the federal, that we sat down and thought of how we could help ourselves,” Halima said. “So, we decided to contribute N1,000 each and we bought this vehicle.

READ ALSO: UN Says Women Need Strong Voice At Afghan Peace Talks

Another contributor, Zayya Auwalu was one of the first sets of women to benefit from the initiative.

“We are very happy that we are receiving that money. I was taken to the hospital in the car we bought when I was about to give birth to this baby I’m backing “ Zayya said.

The Executive Director of Rural Initiative for Comprehensive development, Hadiza Abdulwahab believes the women in the community deserves commendation.

“For women to have thought of their fellow women is actually a sign of a great altruism, therefore, these women deserve commendation,” she said.

On his part, the chairman of the Jigawa state Civil Society Forum, Mr Musbahu Basirka says government needs to do more in providing health centres in hard to reach communities.

UN Says Women Need Strong Voice At Afghan Peace Talks

(FILES) In this file photo, The United Nations flag is seen during the Climate Action Summit 2019 at the United Nations General Assembly Hall on September 23, 2019, in New York City. Ludovic MARIN / AFP.

 

The UN’s special envoy for Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons, on Thursday highlighted the importance of including women at upcoming peace talks in Doha with the Taliban.

“Human rights and women’s rights are never negotiable,” Lyons, who is Canadian, told the Security Council, adding that she expected a “rough road ahead” for the talks.

“This issue of women’s rights will be more central in the Afghan peace process than we have ever seen in any other peace negotiation in recent memory,” she said.

The government in Kabul said Thursday that it had freed 400 Taliban prisoners under an exchange deal with the militants and expected talks to begin soon in Qatar.

Lyons welcomed the “energetic outreach and substantive preparations” of the women on the Afghan government’s negotiating team.

“We are not yet aware of any women’s representation on the Taliban side, but we remain hopeful that they, too, will find a way of meaningfully including women,” she told the council.

For Lyons, having women at the negotiating table “offers the best opportunity to ensure that their own rights are upheld, and that their vision for elements of a peaceful Afghanistan is reflected in all aspects of the talks.”

Five Afghan women who endured the Taliban’s oppressive rule are on Kabul’s negotiating team.

Washington’s ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, warned that “no current nor future Afghan government should count on international donor support” if the rights of women and girls are repressed in any way.

Intra-Afghan peace negotiations were initially supposed to begin in March as agreed in a deal between the Taliban and Washington in February, from which Kabul had been excluded.

But repeated squabbles over the prisoner exchange delayed the start of talks, aimed at bringing an end to nearly 19 years of war.

AFP

FIFA Postpones Women’s Under-17 World Cup To 2021

FIFA President Gianni Infantino addresses the media during a press conference following the FIFA Council Meetings in Miami, Florida, on March 15, 2019. RHONA WISE / AFP.

 

The women’s Under-17 World Cup, due to be held in India in November, has been postponed for three month, FIFA said Tuesday, adding to a growing list of sporting events hit by the pandemic.

The tournament, to be played in five cities across the country, will now start February 17, football’s governing body said.

India is looking to boost its international standing as a host of top sporting events after holding the men’s Under-17 World Cup in 2017.

“All the host cities have put in a lot of effort and commitment so far, and we are happy that the new dates will allow them to make up for the lost time and provide momentum going forward,” the local organising committee said after the FIFA announcement.

FIFA also unveiled new dates for this year’s U-20 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica and Panama. It will now be played from January 20 to February 6, 2021.

The 2020 FIFA Futsal World Cup in Lithuania has been pushed back to September 12 next year.

READ ALSO: Spain Unveils 14-day Quarantine For Arrivals

Meanwhile, the 70th FIFA Congress, which was due to be held in Addis Ababa, will be run as an online event on September 18.

The coronavirus has brought international sport to a standstill, but some football leagues are restarting — albeit behind closed doors.

South Korea’s K-League came back to life last Friday and Germany’s Bundesliga football championship is to restart this weekend in empty stadiums.

AFP

Judge Rules Against Equal Pay For US Women Soccer Team

 In this file photo taken on June 28, 2019 US players pose ahead of the France 2019 Women's World Cup quarter-final football match between France and USA, at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris. Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP
In this file photo taken on June 28, 2019 US players pose ahead of the France 2019 Women’s World Cup quarter-final football match between France and USA, at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris. Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP

 

A federal judge dismissed the United States women’s soccer team’s bid for equal pay on Friday, rejecting claims the players had been underpaid in a crushing defeat for the reigning world champions. 

In a 32-page ruling, Judge Gary Klausner of the US District Court for Central California in Los Angeles tossed the women’s claim of pay discrimination, ruling in favour of the United States Soccer Federation.

Klausner did allow the women’s case for unfair treatment in areas such as travel, housing and medical support to proceed to trial, set for June 16 in Los Angeles.

But the judge said the equal pay claims — the central plank of the case — had been dismissed because there was evidence the women had turned down an offer to be paid along the lines of the US men’s team.

“The history of negotiations between the parties demonstrates that the WNT rejected an offer to be paid under the same pay-to-play structure as the MNT, and the WNT was willing to forgo higher bonuses for benefits, such as greater base compensation and the guarantee of a higher number of contracted players,” Klausner wrote.

“Accordingly, plaintiffs cannot now retroactively deem their CBA (collective bargaining agreement) worse than the MNT CBA by reference to what they would have made had they been paid under the MNT’s pay-to-play terms structure when they themselves rejected such a structure,” he said.

‘Shock, disappointment’

The US women were left stunned by their defeat on the pay issue. The women had been seeking back pay of $66 million under the Equal Pay Act.

Prominent US women’s team star Megan Rapinoe said after learning of the court’s decision that the battle is not over.

“We will never stop fighting for EQUALITY,” she wrote on Twitter.

A spokeswoman for the players reacted with dismay following Friday’s ruling.

“We are shocked and disappointed with today’s decision, but we will not give up our hard work for equal pay,” spokeswoman Molly Levinson said.

“We are confident in our case and steadfast in our commitment to ensuring that girls and women who play this sport will not be valued as lesser just because of their gender.

“We have learned that there are tremendous obstacles to change; we know that it takes bravery and courage and perseverance to stand up to them.”

The increasingly acrimonious lawsuit had taken a dramatic turn in March, when a filing by lawyers for the federation argued that US men’s team players required a “higher level of skill based on speed and strength” than the women.

The filing triggered outrage amongst the women’s players while influential sponsors such as Coca-Cola voiced disgust at the remarks.

USSF President Carlos Cordeiro later resigned following the uproar, with Rapinoe accusing the USSF of “blatant sexism” in its legal filings.

The US women, who clinched back-to-back World Cup wins with victory at last year’s finals in France, had based their claim for back pay in the disparities between prize money distributed by FIFA at the men’s and women’s World Cups.

Germany’s men won $35 million for their victory in the 2014 World Cup while France earned $38 million after triumphing in Russia in 2018.

The United States women, victors in the 2015 and 2019 World Cups, earned total prize money of $6 million over the two tournaments.

 

AFP

UEFA Give Women’s European Championship New Slot In 2022

(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 28, 2020 shows the UEFA logo at the organization's headquarters in Nyon. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 28, 2020 shows the UEFA logo at the organization’s headquarters in Nyon. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP.

 

The next women’s European Championship in England has been put back a year to 2022, UEFA confirmed on Thursday, after initially being postponed as a knock-on effect of the coronavirus crisis.

European football’s governing body confirmed that the competition will be staged from July 6-31, 2022, following a meeting of its Executive Committee.

The competition was put back after the earlier decision to delay the men’s European Championship by a year to 2021 in the face of the pandemic, and the desire to avoid a clash of the two tournaments.

“When we had to take an urgent decision on the postponement of UEFA Euro 2020, we always had the impact on UEFA women’s Euro 2021 in mind,” said UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin.

“We have carefully considered all options, with our commitment to the growth of women’s football at the forefront of our thinking.”

Dismissing concerns that the women’s game might be considered an afterthought, Ceferin added that the move to 2022 ensured that the women’s Euro would be given “the spotlight it deserves”.

READ ALSO: Italy Launches Antibody Tests For Coronavirus Immunity

The final of the women’s Euro is set to be played at Wembley, which is also the venue for both semi-finals and the final of the men’s tournament.

The English FA’s director of women’s football, Sue Campbell, said that the host nation backed the decision to delay the tournament by a year.

“We agree that this decision will ultimately benefit the tournament, creating its own window in the football calendar. It will also allow us all more time following this challenging period to deliver an unforgettable event befitting of a home Euro,” she said.

AFP

Istanbul Police Fire Tear Gas At Women’s Day March

Turkish women gather to celebrate International Women’s Day in Ankara on March 8, 2020.
Adem ALTAN / AFP

 

Istanbul police fired tear gas Sunday to prevent hundreds of women marching on the city’s central avenue on International Women’s Day after authorities ban the march for the second year running.

Riot police were trying to disperse the crowds at the popular Taksim Square, close to Istiklal Avenue where the women wanted to march, an AFP correspondent said.

There was a heavy police presence and demonstrators were met by a wall of officers. The situation was calm until the women tried to enter the avenue and officers intervened.

The women marching chanted feminist slogans and some carried placards including: “Trans women are women”, “Abuse cannot be forgiven or excused” and “Long live the feminist struggle”.

Last year’s march was also banned and police fired tear gas at thousands of women on the central avenue, despite a peaceful demonstration in 2018.

The Istanbul governor’s office earlier on Sunday said all roads leading to Taksim Square and Istiklal Avenue would be closed.

The issue of women’s rights is often on the news agenda following high profile femicides, and critics accuse President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamic-rooted government of not taking violence against women seriously enough.

One killing that had a particular impact was the murder of 38-year-old Turkish woman Emine Bulut at the hands of her former husband in August 2019.

She was killed in front of her 10-year-old daughter.

In 2019, 474 women were killed in murders linked to their gender, according to the women’s rights group “We Will Stop Femicide”, compared with 440 in 2018 and 210 in 2012.

AFP

We Would Strive To Break Down Barriers Against Women – Jonathan

 

Former President Goodluck Jonathan (File).

 

Former President Goodluck Jonathan has hailed the strength and resilience of women. 

In a statement issued on Sunday to mark the 2020 International Women’s Day, the former president said Nigeria recognizes their sacrifices and achievements across all walks of life.

He also gave an assurance of his continued support to break down barriers against gender equality and the rights of women.

#HappyWomensDay2020 to women all over the world,” he said in the statement.

“Today the world celebrates your strength and resilience. We recognize your sacrifices and achievements in all walks of life.

“I urge that we all continue to strive to break down barriers against gender equality and women’s rights,” Jonathan added.

Iran In ‘Shock’ Over Missing Female Olympic Medallist

In this file photo taken on August 26, 2016 Keivan Alizadeh (R) the father of Kimia Alizadeh who became the first Iranian woman ever to win an Olympic medal, shows her medal upon her arrival at Imam Khomeini International Airport in tcapital Tehran. peyman / ISNA / AFP

 

 

Concern mounted Thursday in Iran over the fate of the Islamic republic’s only woman to have won an Olympic medal, who is believed to want to settle in The Netherlands.

Kimia Alizadeh clinched a taekwondo bronze medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016, drawing praise from her compatriots including the country’s President Hassan Rouhani and even conservatives in the Islamic republic.

In keeping with Iran’s strict Muslim custom, Alizadeh, then 18, competed wearing a headscarf over her taekwondo uniform and protective gear.

There were high hopes she would compete at the Tokyo Olympics later this year and bring home another medal, but it appears this is not to be.

The semi-official ISNA news agency on Thursday carried a report saying: “Shock for Iran’s Taekwondo. Kimia Alizadeh has emigrated to The Netherlands.”

According to ISNA, the coach of the women’s national team said that Alizadeh is suffering from an injury.

It said Alizadeh did not show up for trials ahead of the Tokyo Games.

Isna and several other media believe that Alizadeh, who is reportedly training in The Netherlands, is hoping to compete in Tokyo but not under the Iranian flag.

A poor quality picture posted on the internet, and showing a woman who is believed to be Alizadeh without a headscarf and mixing with a group of young men and women, has sparked tens of thousands of comments.

And the hashtag #Kimia_Alizadeh was one of the most-shared Thursday on Twitter in Farsi.

Tansin news agency, which is close to ultra-conservative groups, questioned why the taekwondo federation and Alizadeh’s family “have not yet reacted to confirm or deny the stunning development” of her defection.

Iranian MP Abdolkarim Hosseinzadeh, meanwhile, demanded answers, accusing those he described as the “incompetent officials” of allowing Iran’s “human capital to flee” the country.

He drew a comparison between Alizadeh and Iranian chess prodigy Alireza Firouzja who won the grandmaster title at age 14, two years after winning the Iranian chess championship, and who now lives in France.

If Alizadeh fails to represent Iran at the Tokyo Olympics it would be a huge blow for the Islamic republic.

Along with judo, taekwondo is one of Iran’s sporting strengths.

Last year, the International Judo Federation suspended Iran from international competition over its refusal to allow its fighters to face judokas from Israel which the Islamic republic does not recognise.

Women Demand Environmental Justice In Niger Delta

Police Arrest 10 Suspects For Political Violence In Akwa Ibom

 

Some women in the Niger Delta region have demanded urgent steps to mitigate the devastating effects of climate change causing environmental pollution in the region.

The women under the aegis of Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre made the demand at an event on Tuesday in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital.

The executive director of the centre, Emem Okon, decried the delay by the government in proffering lasting solutions to the menace of environmental pollution.

She said, “Women do not have access to clean drinking water; women’s health is being impacted by the oil extractive activities.

“There are increased incidents of cancer and increase the incidence of miscarriages among women.”

According to Okon, this is why the women resolve to pick a day to come together to put pressure on the government and the relevant stakeholders to take drastic measures to clean up the Niger Delta.

A participant at the event, Dorathy Ijuwa, lamented that women now face many challenges due to the situation, including restrictions to carry out their business ventures.

“Women can no longer go for fishing as there is no fish for the women to support their husband; no everything there is bad because of oil spills,” she said.

Similarly, there were more emphasis on environmental justice and the effects of climate change on both male and the female in the society.

The women, therefore, asked the government to immediately put measures in place to save the environment from its a dilapidated state.

Brazilian Grandmother Turned Lingerie Model Shines Light On Older Women

 

Wearing nothing but a lacy bra and matching panties, Brazilian grandmother Helena Schargel strikes a seductive pose during a photoshoot featuring her latest lingerie designs for women over 60.

“Wonderful, marvelous,” the photographer gushes as Schargel, 79, stares confidently into the camera in a converted warehouse in Sao Paulo.

After decades working for a fabric company, the lithe and energetic Schargel emerged from retirement more than two years ago on a mission to drag older women out of obscurity.

Her tactic? Sexy fashion designed especially for them — and modelled by her.

“This project has a clear goal: to make women visible,” Schargel told AFP at her elegantly furnished apartment in Brazil’s biggest city.

Schargel has launched several underwear collections with Brazil’s Recco Lingerie. An activewear line with the company Alto Giro was unveiled this year and more are in the works, she says.

Schargel, who helps with the designs, says Brazilian women over 60 have long been overlooked by fashion companies, society — and even themselves.

 

She shares words of encouragement on her Instagram account, where she has nearly 18,000 mainly women followers, of all ages.

Messages such as “take a risk” and “you can do anything” pepper her feed, which receive hundreds, sometimes thousands, of likes and comments.

“I never thought about how old I was, never — this never worried me,” says Schargel, describing the popularity of plastic surgery in Brazil as “madness.”

“It was only a few years ago that I realized I was no longer 33.”

No Gym Trips

The daughter of Polish immigrants, Schargel began making clothes as a teenager and selling them in her parents’ store.

It was the beginning of a lifelong career in fashion.

Along the way, she got married twice and had two children. She now has five grandchildren, some of whom wear her designs.

Retirement did not suit the soon-to-be octogenarian, who moves with the ease of someone decades younger.

“I thank God that I don’t need to go to the gym,” she says, lolling in a lounge chair in black and white leggings and matching loose-fitting top and sneakers.

“I do pilates three times a week, which is good for me and my spirit.”

‘Absurdly Comfortable’

Schargel’s decision to model lingerie was daring in a macho country where older women are treated as if they “are not alive anymore,” says Vogue Brazil editor-in-chief Paula Merlo.

“She reminds you that there is a life after 60, 70 and it can be sexy, it can be fun and it can also be profitable.”

After some initial butterflies, Schargel says she feels comfortable stripping to her underwear in public.

Determined to appear as natural as possible, she insists on no photoshopping.

“I always say, ‘Please, leave all my little wrinkles just as they are’,” she says.

“They are very important. They show that I have arrived here.”

At the hours-long photo shoot, a barefoot Schargel drifts between the dressing room and photo studio, showing off lingerie and pieces from her new bed-to-street line.

She moves easily in front of the camera as fashion photographer Pablo Saborido clicks away.

“I really like working with people outside… the model profile,” says Saborido, 39.

Schargel says her lingerie is “absurdly comfortable.” Some pieces even “help lift the butt,” she adds cheekily.

As the global population ages, Schargel says the world needs to get ready for an explosion in elderly women in the coming decades.

“Twenty, 30 years from now, there will be many more grannies than young people,” she says.

“We need to prepare for this — companies need to prepare for this.”

‘Revenge Porn,’ Leaked Selfies: Sextortion Spreads In Iraq

Iraqi Flag

 

The threat came by anonymous Instagram message one late Iraqi evening, making Hala’s blood run cold: “I’ve got all your pictures and recordings. Shall I send them to your dad?”

The young Iraqi woman received a wave of similar messages after hackers infiltrated her Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram accounts and stole explicit images she had sent in private.

“Some of them wanted money, some wanted a sexual relationship, even if it was just on the phone, others just wanted to bully me for no reason,” said Hala, 25, whose name has been changed to protect her identity.

Women in Iraq say they are facing a staggering increase in online “sextortion” by both malicious hackers and former romantic partners to whom the women had knowingly sent photographs, a practice known as revenge porn.

Victims, activists and lawyers blame the phenomenon on a blend of factors: a conservative society, social media being used as virtual dating platforms, poor digital security among victims and weak laws.

The potential consequences can be devastating in a milieu as conservative as Iraq: at best, an indelible mark of shame on a family but at worst, a death sentence by “honour killing” for the victims.

Last year, Iraqi model and Instagram starlet Tara Fares was shot dead in Baghdad, with many suspecting gunmen who were contemptuous of her comparatively liberal lifestyle.

With Fares’ fate in mind but unwilling to bend to her blackmailers’ demands, Hala ultimately fled Iraq this year.

“But I still get threats. These people don’t forget.”

‘Every kind of violence’

Widespread gender separation has pushed Iraqi youth to use sites like Facebook or Instagram as de facto dating platforms, said gender-based violence expert Rusul Kamel.

And in a country with no sex education at school, girls join secret all-female forums to discuss their bodies or seek advice.

The couples and groups often exchange intimate photographs — which for a woman in Iraq can be something as mild as a picture without a traditional Muslim headscarf, “considered a shame in this society,” said Kamel.

These images were being increasingly exploited, Kamel and other activists said, relaying testimonies of a half-dozen victims who declined interviews out of fear their identities would be revealed.

One woman paid $200 every month for four years to an ex-boyfriend so he wouldn’t publish intimidate pictures of her, her colleague told AFP.

Another had her photographs stolen by a hacker and sold her telephone and jewelry to pay him off.

A third developed an online affair with a man, who then threatened to forward her pictures to her husband unless she slept with him.

“Cyber-extortion combines almost every kind of gender-based violence — sexual, psychological, economic — and the victims rarely find social or legal recourse,” said Kamel.

‘No deterrent’

Indeed, sextortion is rising partly because “there’s no deterrent,” said lawyer Marwa Abdulridha, who has been referred dozens of cases in the past three years.

She said entering a police station is considered taboo for Iraqi women, and victims also fear blackmailers could be protected by one of the country’s powerful tribes.

“That’s why most victims don’t even file a complaint. Going to court is like a bogeyman for them,” Abdulridha added.

Victims who do pursue a case often face judges who know little about the internet or classify the crime differently.

“I’ve had judges ask, ‘what is this Facebook?'” she said.

“And if a judge sees the case as a man ‘terrorising’ a girl, he could apply the counter-terrorism clause and recommend the death sentence. Or he could see it as libel and order a fine,” Abdulridha added.

Iraq’s interior ministry said it opened three “sextortion” cases in Baghdad over the past month, charging some accused perpetrators with “criminal threats” and others with fraud.

But one department known as Iraq’s community police is using a different approach.

Their stations have female officers to encourage victims to come forward, and units are trained in dealing with gender-based violence under the principle of “do no harm”.

“Our officers prioritise the victim’s anonymity, and we pursue the case however she feels comfortable — inside or outside the courts,” said the force’s national chief, Ghalib Atiya.

Community police units said they can be more effective than the courts — in northern Mosul, units resolved three sextortion cases in a single week using reconciliation.

But Atiya said the problem is “spreading to a dangerous level,” with women making up 60 to 70 percent of online extortion victims in Iraq, most in Baghdad and the tribal south.

“We need the law to really bring the numbers down,” he said.

But Abdulridha, the lawyer, said real change required a more holistic approach.

Media should stop reporting such cases as scandals and non-government groups should provide digital security training to prevent hacking, she said.

“Otherwise, a girl can be killed in a split second,” she said.