Gender Discrimination and Societal Injustice against Female Prisoners in Yemen
Mr. Ahmed Abdullah Al-Dhamari
Human Rights Activist
Because of the masculine oppression that women suffer in Yemen and the family domination that is based on societal norm that made women a "shame", the family must hide this shame in the dark. For this reason, women have been given secondary roles in life and make them hostages to ignorance, poverty and material need. This gender discrimination by society, besides other certain conditions for some women, was one of the most important reasons for some women to go to prison.
If a woman was imprisoned in Yemen, she was sentenced to life exile. If she was imprisoned on suspicion, then society looks at her inferiorly and her relatives abandon her and even consider her a shame that must be eliminated, especially if the charge is related to honor. If the female prisoner is married and has children, then she is deprived of her children by preventing them from approaching her even after her release, divorced by her husband, becomes a pariah and is banned from visits. We see that most of the women prisoners stay in prisons for months or years and no one visits them.
There is no repentance and no tolerance for her from society, unlike their imprisoned male peers who find sympathy, support and forgiveness from the community, especially from the family. That is why most female prisoners prefer to stay in prison and not to leave it after the expiration of their imprisonment period. Female prisoners are possessed by fear of the society that incriminated them, refused to accept them after their release, looked upon them with suspicion and apprehension, and rejected them because they are former prisoners. Even the family of the female prisoner and those closest to her disown her and may kill her once they see her. Unfortunately, this murderous view imposes on her isolation and deprives her of Integration with society and returning to normal life, so she finds herself alone, suffering from the rinsing of life, homeless, and without possessing any vocational skills or scientific qualifications. Even employers are keen not to employ a former prisoner and block the doors of a decent life in front of her. As a result, in the face of this rejection and reaction of the society, she is forced to walk the path of delinquency to return to prison.
Gender-based discrimination against women extends to the judicial authority in all its branches. During the initial investigation stages with the security authorities, the accused female is subjected to inhuman and inappropriate treatment, including threats, beatings and torture, and sometimes sexual harassment. In fact, being is a woman, the female prisoner is treated as a criminal in all stages of litigation and even before a court ruling is issued condemning her. The female prisoner sometimes stays for a long time, may be years, in prison without completing the investigation with her and without a court ruling.
In addition to the forms and manifestations of the specific discrimination that the female prisoner suffers from in Yemen, there are particular grievances, some of which are the absence of a special section for childbirth and care for pregnant women. Even after childbirth, the female prisoner and her infant suffer from malnutrition.
With the outbreak of the war in Yemen, the extent of violations committed against women, especially female prisoners, expanded. The expansion of the war and its increasing ferocity accompanied the emergence of crimes that have not existed before in Yemen, such as arresting women from political opponents, fabricating moral charges against them and forcibly hiding them for a period of months. New secret detention facilities were established in which the worst violations were practiced against female prisoners. Under the pretext of disloyalty, the women in charge of women's prisons have been replaced by other loyal to the de facto authority, but they do not have any professional qualifications and do not possess the minimum level of experience in prison supervision and management. Therefore, women guards practice the most horrific violations against women prisoners. Despite the scarcity of basic services that were provided, such as health and social care, because of the war such services stopped completely, which negatively affected female prisoners and prevented civil and human rights organizations from visiting prisons.
Female prisoner in Yemen suffered from multiple forms of gender discrimination, societal injustice, and successive governments ’disregard for the violations committed against them. Moreover, the war came to make matters worse, but with hope, work and honorable solidarity, the agony will unfold, justice and peace will prevail, and we see an era in which women can enjoy their full rights as an integral component of the Yemeni social fabric.