ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Police in the autonomous Kurdistan Region’s capital on Wednesday announced the arrest of four people responsible for blackmailing women on social media.
“After the Director-General of Erbil Police made an appearance on Kurdistan 24’s Darun u Diyarda program and said they would arrest those who threaten women by publishing their photos or videos, many people contacted us complaining about some unknown internet users,” Hogir Aziz, the spokesperson of Erbil Police, told Kurdistan 24.
When the police received complaints, they arrested four people in less than three days, he noted.
“The detained were using different fake accounts on social media networks to talk to girls and women,” Aziz added.
“First, they convince the women they are looking for a relationship. Then, they blackmail the women by threatening to show their messages or nude photos to family members if they do not send more photos, videos, or money.”
The blackmailers and the 10 female victims are all below the age of 29, he added.
In one of the cases, a blackmailer had threatened a woman to send nude photos and videos, or he would share their text messages to her family, the spokesperson stated.
“The woman was scared and sent everything he wanted. Then, he asked her to send him the nude photos and videos of her sisters, relatives, friends, etc.,” Aziz explained.
Dara Mohammed, a Kurdish sociologist in Erbil, told Kurdistan 24 that love or sex-related text conversations could sometimes put the life of a woman in danger at the hands of her family or relatives who want to protect their honor, even in a conservative society like the Kurdistan Region and Iraq.
According to the police spokesperson, in another case, a woman had sent up to USD 20,000 to the blackmailer so he would not publish her photos and videos after he threatened to do so if she did not pay.
Aziz asked locals to contact police should they face similar threats.
He also urged girls and women in the Kurdistan Region to be vigilant in dealing with technology, especially social media networks. Aziz warned them not to send their nude photos or videos to strangers on the internet as the receiver might use it to blackmail them, or hackers might gain access to their files.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Additional reporting by Hero Mawludi)