Fri, 05 Jun 2020

A sexually explicit video involving a Tajik female activist has been posted online in an apparent bid to defame her in Tajikistan's religiously conservative society.

The activist and human rights campaigner, whose name is being withheld, says she doesn't know precisely who is responsible for recording and distributing the video.

Police say they're investigating the case after receiving a formal complaint from the woman.

YouTube and Facebook swiftly removed the video when it was posted on those social-media sites in early September. The footage, however, resurfaced again on Russian social media and some other sites.

'The video has been a heavy psychological blow. I want to know who has done it and why they have done it,' the activist told RFE/RL's Tajik Service.

It's not the first time the Dushanbe-based activist has come under attack on the Internet.

She was also targeted with degrading photoshopped images, insulting comments, and threats on Facebook in April after she took part in a citizens' initiative against an unpopular government plan to raise the price of Internet access in Tajikistan.

In a Facebook post, a group of Dushanbe activists urged people to gather near a city theater on April 22 to sign an open letter asking President Emomali Rahmon to scrap the plan.

The woman was among some 200 people who responded to the call and gathered to sign the letter in a rare event in a country that has little tolerance for unsanctioned gatherings and public initiatives. Some 400 others signed the letter the following day.

Rahmon eventually cancelled the Internet price hike, which had sparked outrage across the impoverished Central Asian country of some 9 million.

The online attacks against the activist, however, intensified. She said at the time that trolls would call her a 'whore' or accuse her of 'inciting violence.'

The attacks culminated with the sex video, which the activist believes was recorded on August 16. The footage shows the activist's face, while the man's face is blurred out.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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