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Civil war means rape in the mind of Yemeni women

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“I would rather she died than be rapped,” said Um Ahmed Alam angrily. Alam, a woman in her fifties, has different expectations for the future than the anti or pro-regime protesters trying to draw up a future full of rights and freedoms. She fears the chaos the country will suffer if the conflicting parties cannot reach an agreement and civil war breaks out in Yemen.

Her fear of sexual harassments is bigger than her fear of losing any of her four daughters. “Death is death, we all will die eventually, but the shame of rape is what we cannot handle,” she said sadly.

Unfortunately, this is a common worry among Yemenis and Alam is not alone in thinking this way; fear that sexual harassment and rape could become a big problem if the state loses control and war breaks out is a growing concern for Yemeni men and women alike.

Mothers have begun to exchange advice on how to protect their daughters from rape if the country slips into civil war.

“I would kill my daughter with my bare hands if this happened,” said Alam’s husband, even though he acknowledged that the girl would be the victim in this situation.

“At the very least we make sure she [the daughter] is covered from top to toe when she sleeps, since the shelling usually starts at night,” said Alam.

Nuha Saleem, 23, is a resident of Hail area. She told the Yemen Times that her mother wakes up at night when she hears explosions, walks three floors up to wake her daughter and make her cover her body to protect her from rape.

Be prepared and cover up

Zainab Al-Ahdel, 23, lives in the Al-Hassaba neighborhood, where the warfare between the Hashid tribal confederation and the regime forces has been fierce. She described her own – and her mother’s – fears and thoughts when the area was shelled.

Al-Ahdel said that she was in her pajamas; a pair trouser and T-shirt, lighting a candle because the power was off, when the sounds of the explosions became stronger, closer and more frightening. “I felt the house shaking,” she said. Then her mother began shouting at her to wear her abayya [a traditional black dress that Yemeni women wear while out to cover their bodies].

“During the shelling we were scared, we could become victims of the random shelling and then become one of the daily deaths,” said Al-Ahdel. “When our fear reached its maximum, my mother began shouting at us to dress in our abayya – that was not at all logical for us.”

In Sana’a where all women – and occasionally even young girls wear an abayya and scarf to cover their face and body – families fear their community’s reaction if the shelling forced their daughters to escape without being able to cover themselves appropriately.

“I believe my mother wants us to make it a priority to cover our bodies the whole time in case we need to escape. But by saying so she makes me feel as though I have no values in life other than those society gave us,” said Reem Ali, a 25 years old girl from Hail Street.

She lives in an area where the regime forces have been fighting the defected First Armored Division. Hail Street it is also at the entrance to Change Square, where the anti-government protests and continued fighting have been taking place.

Society not ready to forgive

For the same reason some girls even do not go to the bathroom during shelling; when girls chat these days they show off how they managed to prevent themselves from responding to the call of nature.

In a heroic way Samah Ahmed bragged to friends how she managed not to use the bathroom for five hours while they shelled in Kentucky Roundabout in mid-September.

“Whenever I panic I need to pee; it is how I am and I cannot help it,” she said. “But during the shelling in our area, even though I was scared I might die, I was more afraid of going to the bathroom in case a blast hit and people saw my body.”

“Society is not ready to forgive females for being victims; families will consider getting rid of their daughters, killing them or hiding them from the society if they are victims of sexual harassment” said Al-Ahdel.

The lowest place

In the violence seen in Sana’a last month, two women were shot in the legs by snipers while walking in Hail Street. Although hundreds of men have also been shot, with some surviving and others dying, Yemeni society was particularly offended by these shootings.

“These thugs reached the lowest place you reach,” an assistant in the field hospital told the Yemen Times. “They sniped women – they did not kill them but shot them in the legs so their bodies would be seen by the men trying to rescue them or the doctors treating them.”

“These thugs have reached the lowest place you can reach,” a female assistant at the field hospital, who did not want to be named, told the Yemen Times. “They sniped women – they did not kill them but shot them in the legs so their bodies would be seen by the men trying to rescue them or the doctors treating them.”

The assistant, a woman aged over 50, cared more about keeping victim’s bodies covered, than the risk to their lives – and unfortunately she symbolizes the mentality of our society.

Written by shatha

October 24, 2011 at 2:28 pm

6 Responses

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  1. I DO NOT BLAME THE YEMENIE WOMEN TO BE AFRAID. I WAS MARRIED TO MAJDI MOHAMMED ALI AL-ERYANI FOR ALMOST 9 YEARS. HE CAME FROME ERRYAN VILLAGE BUT FAMILY HAD MOVED TO JEDDAH SAUDI ARABIA. HIS FATHER WORKS IN THE EMBASSY. IF HIS TREATMENT OF WOMEN IS LIKE THERE I FEEL SORRY FOR ALL WOMEN. MY HEART WAS STRUGGLING TO BEAT AND IT INCONVIENCED HIM TO TAKE ME TO THE HOSPITAL ON SEVERAL OCCATIONS. SOME OCCASIONS WERE SIMPLY PLANS TO VISIT AND CHEW QUAT. ONCE DURING A MISCARRIADGE OF OUR FIRST CHILD. HE LEFT ME BLEEDING TO GO TO WORK WHILE I AWAITED TO GO TO THE DOCTORS TO FIND WHAT WAS WRONG WITH MY BABY. DURING MY SECOND PREGNAUCY HE REENGADGED TO HIS COUSIN SECRETLY. WHEN I FOUND OUT HE SWORE SHE PUSHED HIM AND WOULD BREAK IT OFF. LATTER HIS ABUSE WAS SO BAD I HAD TO LEAVE. I WAS AFRAID AND ALONE. HE ASKED ME TO PUT OFF DIVORCE TILL HIS CITEZENSHIP CAME THRU. I COULDNT. MARRIAGE IS HOLY TO GOD AND MYSELF NOT TO BE USED FOR PERSONAL GAIN. HE HAS HURT ME SO MUCH. 4 YRS DIVORCED. I AM AFRAID OF MEN. ALONE FOREVER.

    carolyn al-eryani

    October 25, 2011 at 6:37 pm

  2. IF THAT IS THE TREATMENT AND BELEVE ME I PUT ALOT OF BAD TREATMENT OUT DUE TO SPACE. OF WOMEN. ITS TERRIBLE. GOD MADE US AS WELL AS MEN. MAJDI WILL PAY FOR HIS HORRIBLE TREATMENT OF ME. I DONT KNOW IF GOD FAVORS MEN OVER WOMEN NO ONE DOES. IT MAY BE BETTER FOR MEN TO TREAT WOMEN AS THEY WANT TO BE TREATED AND FAMILYS TO CONSIDER THE FACT THEY ARE COMMITING MURDER IF THEIR CHILD IS RAPED AND KILLED BY THEM. GOD WILL PUNISH WRONG DOERS. GOD VENGENCE IS SWIFT. I LEAVE IT TO GOD NOW. WE ALL SHOULD LEAVE IT TO HIM. HAVE MORE FAITH IN OUR CREATOR. NOT THE CREATIONS.

    carolyn al-eryani

    October 25, 2011 at 6:48 pm

  3. GETTING BACK TO WHAT GOD. THE ONE TRUE AND ONLY CREATOR WANTS FOR US AS HUMANS SEEMS TO FALL BY THE SIDE WHEN IT COMES TO WHAT IS PERCEIVED AS HONOR. TO WHAT DOES IT HONOR A FAMILY TO KILL AN INNOCENT DAUGHTER WHILE THE CORRUPT MAN WALKS. WHAT HONOR IS THIS. THE VICTUM AND INNOCENT ONE NEEDS TO BE LOVED AND HELD WITH GREAT RESPECT TO HAVE GONE THRU SUCH A TORTURE OF RAPE. WHILE THE MAN WHO COMMITTED SUCH ACT NEEDS THE WHOLE TRIBE AFTER HIM TO REVENGE SUCH AN ACT. HE SHOULD HAVE TO BE MADE TO PAY THE VICTUM ALL HER LIFE MONEY TO COMPENSATE IF NO MAN WILL MARRY HER. ALSO THE FAMILY A SMALLER AMOUNT FOR THEIR PAIN. LET SEE HOW MANY WOMEN WILL HAVE TO FEAR SUCH INJUSTICE THEN.HOWEVER THE VICTUM SHOULD NOT BE FORCED TO MARRY THE MAN. SINCE HIS ACTIONS WERE DISHONORABLE HE SHOULD NOT REAP THE BENIFIT OF AN HONORABLE WOMAN. HE SHOULD SUFFER HIS LIFE AS HIS ACTION CAUSE ANOTHER TOO SUFFER. OF THIS FOR SURE. GOD WILLING TO ALL WHO BELIEVE THEY CAN DO HORRIBLE INJUCTICE TO ANOTHER WITHOUT CONCEQUENCES ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

    carolyn al-eryani

    October 25, 2011 at 8:07 pm

  4. IMAGINE IF ONE TRIBE STOOD FOR ALL PEOPLE MEN AND WOMEN PROTECTING THEIR RIGHTS AND RIGHTS OF OTHERS IN A WAY TO PLEASE GOD. HOW MUCH MORE POWERFULL THAT TRIBE WOULD BE IN THE GRACE OF GOD. TO RULE AS WHAT WE KNOW IN OUR HEARTS TO BE FAIR AND JUST BY GOD. TO ACTURALLY BE A TRIBE UNDER GOD. THIS WAR IS ABOUT INJUSTICE TO THE PEOPLE. YET SOME PEOPLE TAKE ADVANTAGE AND CAUSE INJUSICE THEMSELFS. WHERE WILL IT END. WRONG DOERS NEED TO MAKE IT RIGHT TO GOD. HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE. NOT THE INNOCENTS. THEY HAVE PAID A PRICE NOT THEIRS TO PAY. ITS TIME TO MAKE THE TRUE OWNER OF DEBT PAY. FOR VICTUMS TO BE COMPENSATED FROM THE ONE RESPONSABLE. PROTECT THE INNOCENT ONES.

    carolyn al-eryani

    October 25, 2011 at 8:29 pm

  5. DOING THE BEST WE CAN AND DOING SO WITH GODS WILL IN MIND MAKES OUR SOUL STRONG AND OUR RELATIONSHIP STRONGER WITH GOD. WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES AND NEED TO SUFFER THE CONCIQUENCE OF THOSE ACTIONS AND BELIEVE ME I KNOW ITS HARD KNOWING WE DID WRONG AND ARE PUNISHED. KNOWING WE DID RIGHT AND STAND FOR GODS WILL GIVES US SUCH STRENGHT IN OUR SOUL AS WELL AS PEACE. OTHERS CAN THINK OF ME AS THEY MAY. I WORRY ONLY WHAT GOD THINKS OF ME. HE IS MY ONLY GOD. I WISH ONLY TO MAKE HIM HAPPY. GOD ALONE STANDS FOR GOOD. AND GOOD MAKES ME BETTER. I CHOOSE HIM AND WISH ONLY TO DO HIS WILL. GOD BE WITH US ALL. WE NEED HIM SO MUCH. WE ARE LIKE CHILDREN LOST TODAY. GOOD ACTIONS FIND OUR WAY. BAD ACTIONS FIND…. WE ALL KNOW WHO IT FINDS AND WEAKENS OUR SOUL. ITS TIME TO DO HAPPY THINGS FOR GOD. PEACE WILL FALLOW. GODS WAY IS THE ONLY WAY. HIS WAY IS IN YOUR HEART AND MAKES YOU STRONG. GOODNESS CLEANLINESS KINDNESS CHARITY AND FORGIVENESS IS HOW TO START. VIOLENCE NEVER HELPS ANYTHING. INNOCENTS ALWAYS PAY. WHAT PATH DO U CHOOSE?

    carolyn al-eryani

    October 25, 2011 at 8:52 pm

  6. !

    carolyn al-eryani

    October 26, 2011 at 12:28 am


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