Women Under Suppression
Ms. Shomokh Al-Ward
Human rights activist
Yemeni women were known for their wisdom and courage throughout the ages and times. Women had a social status in the Yemeni tradition, which preserved their rights and dignity. However, when wars and conflicts broke out, they had the largest share in persecuting their rights and violating their dignity. As a result, women were subjected to many violations that amounted to murder, kidnapping, and enforced disappearance in light of the suppression of her right to freedom of opinion and expression.
The parties to the conflict have adopted a methodology of suppression against women, and with all aggression and injustice they have practiced brutal methods against them that were condemned by Yemeni society that deviated from its customs and traditions. Many women were kidnapped and hidden, and were subjected to the worst types of physical and psychological torment and threats to their families and relatives of harm and grief. On September 9, 2020, the group of eminent international experts, which was entitled “Pandemic of Impunity in a Tortured Land”, indicated the existence of a network of a series of secret and official facilities of residential buildings in which women and girls are detained, and subjected to abuse, kidnapping and torture, including violence. Sexual and solitary confinement, as well as physical and psychological ill-treatment. The Group of Experts has received documented reports that 279 women and girls, some of them 14 years old, have been abducted incommunicado.
This is supported by the story of Asma Mater Al-Ameisi, 22 years old, who is in prison and is under sentence of death. Asma is one of the stories of violations and attacks against women in Yemen as a result of wars and conflicts. Asma was kidnapped on October 5, 2016 on her way to Sana'a, with her father and two of her neighbors, and charged with forming a spy and intelligence cell, after she was accused of a dishonorable case for traveling with strangers. Asma was beaten and punched in front of her father by a police woman, and she was forced to watch the two, who were kidnapped with her, being tortured, suspended, and beaten all over their bodies. On January 30, 2018, the court sentenced Asma and the two who were with her to death, her 50-year-old father was sentenced to a decade and a half in prison, and the (indecent act) charge imposed an additional sentence for Asma with 100 lashes. According to the Amnesty International report, those who spoke to Asmaa in Sanaa's Central Prison said that her morale is very low and in very poor health conditions, and that she must pay the costs of food, clothing and health materials, and her family does not visit her for fear of kidnapping.
Kidnapped women in prisons suffered from severe psychological pressure because they were subjected to insults and accusations in their honor and morals. Some of them were raped and caused a great shock to the abductee and her family. So, some of them locked themselves between the walls of brokenness after their release from prison.
The expert team verified six cases of rape, as two of these women were subjected to various forms of sexual violence over a period of time, and three of these women were raped on more than twenty occasions. This made the kidnapped women enter into a bad psychological state as a result of systematic and deliberate torture to humiliate them, abuse their dignity, and destroy their psyche, so that some of them committed suicide. The experts ’report stated that the rape had shattered the will of some survivors, accompanied by isolation and humiliation, and led them to despair and increased their tendency to commit suicide.
All these things make the kidnapped women in a very bad psychological state in a prison that lacks the lowest standards of health and psychological concern. The health and psychological state of the kidnapped prisoner deteriorates, where the rate of depression and other mental illnesses increases, which forces some of them to go to a psychiatrist when they leave, and many of them may miss that the physical and social conditions surrounding them.
This was confirmed by the experts' report, where it described the impact of the violations that the abducted women were subjected to as a long-term trauma for themselves, their families and their societies. They often did not have access to medical treatment or rehabilitation for the abducted women in detention. After they were released, unless they could afford it, some of them had struggled to access services related to gender-based violence due to stigma and the lack of specialists in it.
At the end of the report, the Group of Experts recommended all parties to the conflict to ensure justice for all parties to the conflict, immediately stop all kinds of violence committed in the rights of civilians, take the necessary measures to protect them, ensure the immediate release of all arbitrarily detained persons, respect their rights, and immediately dissolve the network of secret detention facilities, and put an immediate end to all forms of sexual violence against women. The recommendations further include: to end impunity, ensure full accountability for violations of international human rights law, hold perpetrators accountable, provide financial, medical, psychological and social support, and develop more comprehensive programs to support and rehabilitate victims.
In addition, the necessary measures must be taken to preserve the rights of imprisoned women, including preserving their dignity, guaranteeing their rights to defend themselves and their other legal rights, and the exercise of their normal activities of education, health, psychological rehabilitation and skills inside and outside the prison.
Finally, all together, hand in hand towards a better future that preserves the rights and dignity of women in Yemen.