Young Afghans go online to find friendship and love

Wed Nov 12, 2014 3:34am EST
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By Jessica Donati

KABUL (Reuters) - Frustrated by strict social rules, young and educated Afghans are quickly learning that taboos can be sidestepped at the tap of a mobile phone.

In deeply conservative, Muslim Afghanistan, social media is opening a new route for men and women to communicate in private.

Some even find love in a country where most marriages are arranged and strict rules make it tough - and dangerous - for men and women to interact even in the most liberal circles.

A recent explosion in Internet use has opened a new frontier, and many are using tools such as instant messaging to approach each other and set up dates.

"For a start, social media are used to communicate, and to arrange marriage. Both boys and girls look for marriage," said a faculty member in information technology at a Kabul university, who has experimented with online dating.

Like other Afghans interviewed for this report, he asked for his name to be withheld.

Social media websites such as Facebook offer a rare opportunity for couples to learn about each other before marriage, he said.

"People prefer to use Facebook or Gmail to chat because society does not make it easy to talk directly."   Continued...

Afghan girls work at a first Internet cafe for women in Kabul March 8, 2012. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail