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Yemen: Human rights defender and blogger Ms Huda Jaafar subjected to on-line threats and abusive messages

Yemeni woman human rights defender and blogger Ms Huda Jaafar has been subjected to vitriolic gender- based abuse through threatening, abusive and defamatory messages sent to her social media Facebook account.

Huda Jaafar is a prominent human rights defender and writer from the southern city of Aden, renowned for her advocacy for women’s rights and her calls for all forms of violence against women in Yemen to be eliminated.

On 26 February 2012, Ms Huda Jaafar received a number of threatening, abusive and defamatory messages to her Facebook account following comments she made regarding a politician in Yemen. These messages contained exceptionally obscene language directed at her. She was threatened with being attacked should she continue to express her views. The gender-based abuse, which she was previously subjected to via email, is apparently meant to defame her and tarnish her reputation within the Yemeni community.

Comments sent to her Facebook account also accused the human rights defender of being a “sick socialist” and a member of a terrorist group, apparently in an attempt to link her to movements calling for the independence of the southern region of Yemen. Huda Jaafar works in an extremely conservative society where women are routinely denigrated and are required often against their will to conform to predetermined religious and social codes. It is almost impossible for a Yemeni woman to venture into the street without wearing the burqa or niqab.

Front Line Defenders condemns the threatening, abusive and defamatory messages directed at Huda Jaafar. Front Line Defenders believes that these messages are solely motivated by Huda Jaafar's exercise of her right to freedom of expression and her work as a woman human rights defender.

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