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Fact Check-Image of three women walking behind a man in chains is digitally altered

Social media users have shared an image of three women wearing burkas and walking in chains behind a man, claiming that it shows Afghanistan in 2021. The image has been digitally altered and no chains are visible in the original photograph, which was taken in 2003.

“God protect women and children because an institution like the United Nations has become impotent,” one user who shared the image on Twitter said (here).

Other users on Facebook and Instagram claimed the image was current and compared it to an image of women wearing miniskirts, alleging that photograph dated from 1960 (here), (here), (here).

The image is not recent and the chains were digitally added onto the original photograph.

The earliest appearance of the image online is from a blog published in 2006 and no chains are present (archive.is/wip/fLZeF). The photography website credits Murat Düzyol, who told Reuters that he took the image in 2003.

This (unedited) version was then shared on online blogs in 2011 and 2014 (archive.is/wip/0tYwX), (archive.is/wip/WS09N), (archive.is/chKb2), (archive.is/wip/9suej).

There are further indications that the version with chains cuffed at the ankles is digitally altered.

The shadows of the women are thin and angled, indicating that the image was likely taken at sunrise or sunset, when the sun is low-lying (here).

The shadows of the chains between the man and woman behind him do not distort or lengthen – and thus don’t follow the same pattern as the other shadows in the image.

Additionally, the size of the chain links does not change size or direction in the photo which has considerable depth, further suggesting that they were digitally added.

Meanwhile, the image of the women walking down the street in miniskirts was not captured in 1960, as claimed in the viral memes. It was taken in Kabul in 1972 by photographer Laurence Brun (here).

The doctored image emerged after the Taliban seized Afghanistan's capital on Sunday, following a week of rapid territorial gains from retreating government forces battling to hold off the Islamist militant group (here), (here).

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed concern about the future of women and girls in the country on Sunday (here).

VERDICT

False. An image showing three women wearing burkas with chains on their ankles is not authentic – the chains were edited onto the image after it was published and circulated online. It is also not recent and dates from 2003, the photographer told Reuters.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .

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