A discussion on a FB Pashtun women's organization compelled me to write the following in response to this question: Photos on FB: From time to time, this question has come up as to why dont Afghan girls show their profile pictures? Is it because we really want to stay private or we dont feel safe ?
I'm so glad you guys are discussing this! It's a huuuge problem, I have to say, because why the hell can't we just be ourselves? Why can't we put up pics of ourselves without fearing that someone will steal them, download them, and upload them to Youtube videos (yes! They do this! Perverts. The only other people I've seen to be backward enough to do this are other Pakistani ethnic groups, like Punjabis), and make fake profiles -- whether of us or with other name but with our photos.
Some males might think they're "teaching girls a lesson" when they do this because, in their opinion, it is haraam/forbidden for girls to show their face in public. Well, let me remind you that this is not how you teach a lesson. First off, most times, the girls don't even know that you've stolen their pics, so what's the point of teaching them a lesson? Second off, who the hell are YOU to teach anyone a lesson? Third off, if you wanna talk about Islam, privacy is one of the most important things in Islam: everyone's privacy is to be respected, and you have no right to steal anyone's pics and claim their profile. You are lying, if that makes it more clear.
Discussing this is the first step - what's the second step? First, how many males decided to participate in this thread? Problem or not? We need their voices too. We need them to stand up with us in showing how and why this is a problem, how it affects Pukhtun girls.
Also, we have to understand why people do with girls' pics what they do with them. As I pointed out earlier, one of the reasons is that they think this is haraam -- if not in Islam, then in our culture: girls are private property (okay, okay - private entities!), and they are not to be exposed in public, whether for good for bad. This is precisely why women have to cover their faces in many Pashtun regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. (Swat is one of the places where this is done, and I'm from Swat, so I can tell you with certainty that we women are socially required to cover our faces, and it's all because we fear that if we don't, men and women who see us in streets or in public will give our husbands/fathers/brothers/grandfathers/etc. peghor that they say us and recognized us. This is the sickest thing ever - to think that we have problems like this! And then we wonder why our society is so damn behind in so damn many things.) Anyway, so I was saying how it's important to understand why women's pictures are taken from FB and other social networks and abused all over the net.
But we have to ask ourselves: Is *not* showing our pics on these social networks indeed the solution? Or is it possible that if more of us posted our photos, these backward, corrupt-minded, perverted women and men who abuse girls' photos will realize that "You know what? Too many of them are now showing their pics, so I guess there's nothing I can do about it. I guess today's world, what with social networking and all, sort of calls for this. I quit harassing these girls and abusing their privacy. I'm just gonna let them be"? Naaaa - that sounds too reasonable! I don't think pervets think this way. But I sure as hell don't think that our efforts in NOT posting our pics will solve this problem. It only worsens it because it teaches other girls the message that it's wrong to post your pics on FB, etc., and it teaches guys that since girls aren't supposed to be posting their photos, it's okay if you download those photos and spread them around the net.