A Growing phenomenon has been taking place, posting photos of Hijab wearing Chechen women on various social media platforms, the pages are Arabic, marketing Chechen women as brides and objectifying them as women with pretty faces. 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 an object to fulfill sexual desires. This time, surprisingly women in Hijab.
Let me first start by providing a small brief about Chechnya. It is a republic in the Northern Caucasus and is considered a federal subject of Russia, situated in the southernmost part of Eastern Europe, its capital is Grozny and the majority of its people are Muslims.
I was able to find more than a dozen social media accounts that post images of women saying they are Chechen women looking for husbands, it was very interesting to see how these accounts declared the purpose of their pages in various ways sometimes stating they are a page of a fictional character or an artist’s page, one even described itself as an event. The followers of these pages ranged as little as 82 followers up to more than one hundred thousand for others (I am happy to say this particular page has been removed). There were many accounts that had the same name which I think this serves the purpose of ensuring they can reach the largest audience.
When looking in-depth at one of these pages you find there are marketing tactics in-place to make sure the images are spread all over the internet, these tactics range from publishing on an online magazine where it advertises how one can marry a Chechen woman, the magazine relies on provocative headlines to draw people’s attention to its articles, a gossip glossy style, and using sexually charged photos to attract viewers was one of their strategies. Beside relying on tagging other users.
It was clear these accounts were getting popular where they were receiving many ‘likes’. The rapid growth in the number of likes for these accounts suggests two things:
- If these ‘Likes’ were generated organically this shows; the page creators are able to market themselves and gain attention to their pages very fast which indicates they take their work seriously and are familiar with online marketing techniques, revealing they have some kind of training.
- If this growth in number of ‘Likes’ was paid for, it shows they have funding, thus they are not just hobbyists.
One page sums it up about their intentions, where they ask for money to be transferred to them in order to secure the deal, one page asks an amount of 2000 dollars to be sent as an upfront, it’s worth mentioning that the language used in the announcement makes sure to convey religious sentiments.
Moving on to what this means? Why do they do this? Who are these people doing this?
Exploiting the images of women, and portraying them as exotic creatures that need to be explored has been done before in various forms. Hijabi women’s image has been contested, this was highlighted by Dr.Leila Abu Lughud at 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 highlighted 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 exploitation is taking place where Hijabi Chechen 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 which is 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 a 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 social media platforms rules and regulations will shut down their accounts, and I highly 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.
Although it is customary in Arab societies that young men and women to 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 viewers to pick the woman 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.
The last question I asked was who are these people behind these pages? Although I don’t know who exactly are they, however, they seem to be driven by purpose and know what they are doing, they are not young kids having a good time on the expense of others, the photos posted have taken a significant time to be collected, and the same photo can be found on several accounts, I found some of them were not even for Chechen women, realizing this made me think how intelligently idiotic 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 beauty along with a promise you can be with this woman, but most importantly creating a stereotype about Chechen Women.