There has been a growing phenomenon of posting Chechen women’s photos on various social media channels, marketing them as brides and objectifying them as pretty women. This trend has risen to an alarming scale where it was no longer a group of people admiring the beauty of women from a certain ethnic background but rather promoting them as women to fulfill sexual desires. I have undertaken a research to unravel this phenomenon and here is what I found:
I was able to find 26 pages (on a certain social media platform) serving this purpose, what was interesting to find, is the variety of the stated ‘type’ of the pages the creators of these pages resorted to stating the type and purposes such as a photographer, a community, a magazine, a personal blog, an artist, a fictional character (weird Right!), a local business, society and culture website and an event. The number of followers of these pages showed the extent to which these pages are spreading, where the number of followers ranged from 82 to 11400. Some offered contact numbers or stated that they are ready to communicate. The replication of the pages with the same name makes you wonder if its random? I guess not, it is so well-thought of and designed to achieve the most desired effect and in this case a negative one, ensuring the propagation of these pages with what they hold of agenda.
When delving in-depth into these pages I found a clearer picture starts to be revealed, I will go into a more detailed discussion by analyzing four pages:
[I opted to remove the real names of the pages, so I will just name them chechen 1, 2, 3 and so on]
Starting with page Chechen_1, which describes it self as a Community page, it has an app promoted throughout its posts, as the app claims that you can go through its photos to choose and then contact the woman you like, moreover, the page is promoted through an online magazine, if you browse throughout its pages one can find it advertises the ability to marry Chechen women and other women from an Arab country, the online magazine also uses provocative headlines for its articles to attract readers and make them click to view their website with headlines such as “The sexual harassment video that was behind the divorce of (a famous Arab tv presenter)”, the owners of this magazine do not identify themselves clearly but use names that seem very random and fake, usually Arab families have more distinct names which can reflect tribal affiliation, or geographical location or the trade of their ancestors which is not the case in the names stated by the owners of this online magazine as if aiming to be ambiguous.
Throughout my investigation, the number of likes suggests many meanings, for instance for a period of 10 days it showed the following; on December 25th the page had (4732-page likes) and on January 4th the same page had (5521-page likes). Assuming this is an organic page growth, there is a 789 increase within 10 days. Although I can’t tell if this increase was reached organically or was paid for, however, it indicates two things:
- If it was organic the page creators are able to market themselves and gain more attraction to their page at a high speed in a short period of time. So this means they take their work seriously and are familiar with online marketing techniques, indicating some sort of training.
- If it was paid for, it shows they have funding which indicates these are not just hobbyists, an agenda-setting seems to be in place.
Another noticeable thing was the page uses hashtags to highlight the names of the women they try to promote for example #Dominica and #Roland, in which if you were familiar with the Chechen culture and norms you would know these are not commonly used Chechen names.
Another page, which was able to attract a large number of following, in a matter a fact it had the largest amount of following among the investigated pages with around 11400 followers. It had a ‘Fictional Character’ stated as a page type, with an empty ‘About’ section (this might indicate they wanted to be vague and knew they will use other means to popularize their page, which they did, the page had the most sexual images among the others).
The third page I analyzed Chechen_3, states that they are ready to reply to inquiries within one day, they also Tag on their posts young men from countries such as Algeria and Egypt, which shows this is how they broaden the reach of their page. The page has around 6600 followers and has ‘Photographer’ stated as a page Type.
The fourth page Chechen_4, had a very strong religious statement through its chosen page name, however, this page sums it all, there is a clear post that indicates that interested men can pay 2000 dollar to get a bride.
Moving on to what this means? Why do they do this? Who are these people doing this?
Women bodies have been exploited for a long time and objectifying them as sexual creatures have been done by many publications, but this time it has taken a shift, my researched sample shows how systematic the creators of these pages are and how they are operating with a purpose and hidden agenda. Although it is customary in Arab societies that young men and women can be introduced to one another by friends and family under the watchful eye of their families for the purpose of getting married, however, it is also known and common sense that posting images of young women and asking the audience to pick the women they like as a bride is offensive and degrading, so any claim by these pages that they act from a moral purpose and aim to provide a community service is false.
Exploiting the images of women, and portraying them as an exotic creature that needs to be explored has been done before in various forms. Another area where Muslim women have been contested was highlighted by Dr.Leila Abu Lughud in a lecture at Columbia Global Centers in Amman where she pinpointed the continuous representation of Muslim women as a person that needs to be saved, where there are numerous books that highlight this purpose among them “The Princess” and “Married by Force” or “Without Mercy: A Novel” just to name a few. Only this time a different form of expoloitation is taking place where Chechen Muslim women are exploited as a source of pleasure through marriage, I want to focus my discussion on the issue of why ‘through marriage’ why those who invented these pages and posts didn’t state ‘women for sex’, but ‘no’ they wouldn’t, it would not achieve the same effect, the posts would have been treated like any pornographic material, gazed upon in the underground areas of cyberspace to be dismissed afterwards and only exist in the fantasy of the observer, where he is consciously aware of that, thus not creating the interest and allure that was intended. Presenting the idea that you can be with this woman provides more enthusiasm and encourages the observer to take action to achieve this goal and perhaps the willingness to pay some money, which can be done with one click or by downloading an app or sending a message where you get in touch with whoever on the other side of the page to fulfill your dream and make it a reality. Sexual desires can be a great motive to make someone take action. Another reason why they might not be explicit in stating their intentions is because the social media platform rules and regulations will shut down their pages, and I believe they know that, as I said they seem to have acquired good knowledge about social media and how it works, and this is where they take advantage of it by knowing the ability of this platform to spread their content.
The last question I asked, who are these people? although I don’t know their specific identity I can state that they are people with no morality, driven by purpose and know what they are doing, they are not just young kids having a good time at the expense of others, the photos posted have taken a lot of time to be gathered, and the same photo can be found on several pages which indicates that one person can be managing several pages, I found many of the posted photos are not necessarily for Chechen women, after tracking one photo I found she is a sports blogger from Latin American origins, this is when I thought to myself how idiotically smart these people are, tracing a photo like this does not take much, but this is what the creators of these pages rely on, the ignorance of others, to seduce them with images of beautiful women combined with a promise that you can be with this person for a sum of money.
At the end, I say this to any guy seeking to find a life partner, perhaps you should rely on trusted circle of people like your friends and family especially your mother can be a great assistance in this regard to introduce you to a nice girl, as people with mischievous intents have risen in number on social media.
Featured Photo Credit: