While discussing Yemen in connection with terrorism is a hot ticket these days, I thought it might be worth taking a look at the other terrorism, violence against women in Yemen. As it always is, this sort of terrorism is not considered as newsworthy as the elusive Al Queda kind, but it is very real and very damaging. Addressing it (and by this, I do not mean using it as an excuse to blow up the country) would go a long way in eradicating the kind that sends men onto planes hiding explosives in their crotch. Here is a rare look at the personal terrorism that confronts women in Yemen.
Via Yemen Today Magazine:
Sisters Arab Forum for Human Rights’ Chairperson, Amal al-Basha, spoke about hostility cases happening in Sa’adah from al-Houthies against innocent women and children at the first training workshop on “Mechanisms of Legal Protection to Eliminate Violence against Women and Children.” The workshop was held for 3 days last week in Sana’a. The workshop was organized by the Arab Sisters Forum for Human Rights with the cooperation with the Netherlands government and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor. It’s part of the forum’s recent program “Legal Protection Program for Women and Children Victims of Violence.”…
…“80% of the refugees in the world are women and children and what’s happening in Sa’adah is a major part of that. There are reports on how violently women and children are being treated in the north, but no one is doing anything. Humanitarian Laws should be immediately implemented. However, the government must protect the innocent civilians from any kind of violence,” said al-Basha
She also added that al-Houthies acts of violence against the innocent civilians embodied their bitter sense of defeat. The workshop consisted of 36 trainees from several different social institutions, governmental institutions and activists. They initiated a better understanding in making more efficient solutions to the current issues women and children face. They had the training course to be prospective trainers in other cities in the future. This workshop is the first one in a series of coming workshops that will be held in the coming days in other cities as well…
…At the end of the workshop, Amal al-Basha, the trainer Shmissa Riyaha and the trainer Ishraq al-Maqtary handed the trainees certifications. “The workshop’s main objective is establishing a collective awareness, through activists and concerned people, towards stopping discrimination against women and violence against women and children,” said Huda Ga’afer, the workshop’s coordinator.
Child marriage is also a significant problem in Yemen:
Nujoud al-Ahdal, the former child bride that made headlines back in 2008 for demanding a divorce from her 30-year-old ex-husband, is leading the fight to help 12-year-old Sally al-Sabahi divorce her 21-year old husband. Nujoud al-Ahdal announced that she will be donating YR 100,000 for this cause.
Nujoud expressed sadness about the fact that no efforts were made to help Sally divorce her husband. Nujoud expects to receive compensation from the French publishing company that published her biography and the challenges she faced during her early marriage and divorce. The money she is donating will make up half of the YR 200,000 dowry the husband paid for the girl, reimbursement for her freedom.
Sally intends to file for divorce from her husband, but she said her parents are too poor to pay back the YR 200,000 dowry to her husband.
Sally got married to her husband 2 years ago. “I felt happy that I would get married and have new dresses and toys to play with and have money; however, I was surprised when my husband asked me to sleep with him on the evening after the wedding party. I told him that was shameful,” she said.\
Her husband raped her because he believed that his wife should obey him. He believed he had legal rights to have non-restricted intercourse with his wife, no matter her age…
…Nujoud said that it brings shame on the whole society to keep silent about rape. “Please free Sally from this unfair marriage and let her go back to play with her friends, brothers and sisters,” pleaded Sally.
“We are not toys. We are children,” said Nujoud.
See also this piece on child marriage and other difficulties faced by girls in Yemen.
Note: I have used single quote marks around the word ‘Other’ very intentionally to call out the fact that in order to abuse someone, or kill someone, it is necessary to consider them as different and less worthy than yourself. This is a very key point in talking about violence and something that I will be focusing on in more depth in the near future.