Tunisian actress sparks debate after announcing out-of-marriage pregnancy
Aicha Attia shared an image of her baby bump on Instagram and confirmed she was four months into her pregnancy.
"I loved a man who promised to marry me and we lived a love story. We conceived a child together and he left me," she said in the post.
"I don't know whether he will recognise my daughter as his... legally of course he will not be her father. But in front of people and my family, in a society that is merciless? .... What I did was wrong but don't judge me. I don't know what will happen to my daughter but women, make sure your fate is better than mine. Love, but know your boundaries, or you'll live the anxiety I’m living with every day," she said.
In a second post to more than 2.1 million followers on Instagram, Attia thanked her fans for their supporting, saying she did not expect such a huge show of solidarity.
Read also: UAE scraps penalties for alcohol, sex and gets tough on 'honour killings' in latest reform
"This is not a music video, nor a movie, nor a soap opera, this is a truth. I will talk about it more in the days to come," she promised.
Though comments were prohibited from being posted on the Instagram image, news of her pregnancy was quickly shared across Arabic media, sparking debate across social media platforms.
While some showed support for her circumstances, others denounced the actress as "reckless".
In Tunisia and the Arab world, sex before marriage is deemed forbidden as per traditions.
For women especially, even publicly announcing relationships is seen as taboo and may result in severe, sometimes fatal, repurcussions.
Earlier this week, the United Arab Emirates made global headlines after announcing lenient penalties for "honour killings" will soon be replaced by tougher measures.
"Based on the UAE solid commitment to protecting women's rights, amendments to the Penal Code and Criminal Procedural law have repealed the article giving reduced (lenient) sentence in what is called 'honour crimes'," the official state news agency WAM reported.
The punishment for a crime committed to eradicate a woman's "shame", for promiscuity or disobeying religious and cultural strictures, will now be the same for any other kind of assault.
Another amendment allows for "cohabitation of unmarried couples", which has long been a crime in the UAE.
Authorities, especially in the more free-wheeling financial hub of Dubai, tend to look the other way when it comes to foreigners, but the threat of punishment still lingered for such behaviour.