Women4Yemen Network’s Paper on the Status of Women’s Rights in Yemen During a Side Event in Human Rights Council
Ladies and Gentlemen
I represent today Women4Yemen Network where we believe Yemeni women need a strong movement similar to #MeToo to break the silence and support women working for peace.
The major prevailing threats are currently:
1. Illegal detainment of women and false prostitution charges:
The Women’s Solidarity Network reported that the Houthi group routinely accuse women of prostitution and have detained 100 women, including juveniles, and were subsequently tortured and sexually assaulted. Women4Yemen Network confirmed 20 cases but social stigma against women prisoners makes it difficult to reach the remaining.
2. Torture in prison and denial of a fair trial:
Women detained know that they will neither receive proper treatment, nor a fair trial, worsened by social stigma, and media blackout. The only woman who spoke out against this was Asma Al-Omeisi, a woman on a death row, which Women4Yemen Network, provided legal aid. She was tortured, deprived from legal rights, and fair trail. This is reflected on the case of Al-Omeisi, a woman on a death row, to whom our network provided legal aid. During her most recent hearing, she was ill and fainted in the court room.
3. Restriction on women-led efforts for peace:
Houthi militias forced women-led organizations to delete the word peace from their interventions threatening them to shut down their organizations, and, if they failed to do so, to detain their leaders as they did to peace activist Awfaa Al-Naami.
4. Restricted mobility:
Women are required to be escorted by men when they travel, which is demanded by both conflict parties. At check points, they face humiliation, sexual harassment and immoral searches and sometimes even get murdered.
5. Denial of assembly rights:
Women peaceful protesters who call for releasing their relatives, or improving the economic situation face detention and oppression by the Houthi group and security forces and armed groups affiliated with the Saudi and UAE coalition.
6. Engendering violence:
Houthis designed a security agency and using women “thugs” called "Zainaibiyat," to attack and detain women protestors or opponents.
7. Character assassination and widespread defamation campaigns:
The illegal detainment is usually accompanied by a massive defamation campaign by the Houthis which uses their media to attack women activists either by attacking their honor, by labeling them as spies, or making videos of forced confession statements of women detainees to blackmail them and their families. In Yemen, those women are disowned by their families and some of them attempt suicide.
1. Crushed civil space, and information and media blackout.
2. Social stigma surrounding women’s detainment where women are disowned by their families and lose the social respect of the society, even if the allegations are false.
1. This will silence women and all Houthi opponents from advancing the peace process and promoting democratic values.
2. Deterioration of gender equality as many women will be discouraged to enroll in political and peace efforts.
3. Sustainable peace will not be achieved as long as women peace activists and women-led organizations are highly restricted.
4. Not only women activists will be affected, these violations create a state of terror for all citizens that will affect the civil movement in Yemen.
5. The hardly fought rights of women will be reversed if these violations continue.
-UN Human Rights Council should make Yemeni women's rights a priority to break the state of terror and work to provide protection and justice to women activists, especially those working for peace.
-Houthi group should enable human rights organizations and human rights observers to meet the women prisoners and stop the defamation campaigns.
- Inclusion of women in all phases of peace talks.
-Strong promotion, support and protection of women’s rights and women-led grassroot organizations from all parties and entities including the right to organize and participate in all decision making.
- Fair trials for women and a justice and prison system free from gender-based violence.
- Ban of all forms of violations of women's human rights, violence against women and harassment in the juridical system in Yemen.
- Free movement of women in the public space.
The below advisors and references have been consulted in the writing of this paper:
1. Eshraq Al-Maqtari : A lawyer and a member of the High Commissioner to the National Commission of Inquiry
2. Huda Al-Sarari: An award winning Human Rights Defender, head of Defense Foundation for Human Rights
3. Afrah Al-Zobah: A political activist and former member of the National Dialogue Conference
4. Amat al-Salam al-Haj: Head of The Associations of the Detainees’ Mothers
1. al-Aghbari, S. (2018, 11 22). تجسس واقتحام المنازل وفض الاحتجاجات.. قوات «الباسيج» الحوثية أياد ناعمة في مهمات قذرة [Spying, house raining, dispersing protests...the Houthi "Basij" is soft hands carrying dirty missions]. Retrieved from Almasdar online news website: http://almasdaronline.com/articles/161282
2. al-Dhabyani, M. (2017). السلالي مدير إذاعة سام الحوثية يدعو لقتل أنصار المؤتمر الشعبي رجال ونساء ويصفهم بالكفار [Racialist head of the Houth- radio calls for killing GPC's followers; men and women and call them disbelievers. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yObBNAb3KBc
3. Amnesty. (2018). Yemen: Huthi court sentences three to death after enforced disappearance and alleged torture. Amnesty .
4. Jarhum, R. (2017). لم يعد استبعاد النساء من المشاركة في عمليات السالم خياراً [Exclusion of women from peace talks is no longer an option]. مشاركة النساء في السلم، الأمن والعمليات االنتقالية [Women participation in peace, security, and transitional processes] مؤسسة فريدريش إيبرت ومساواة.
5. SAM Organization for Human Rights. (2019). ماذا بقي لنا؟[What has been left for us?].
6. The High Commissioner to the National Commission of Inquiry. (2019). Report of the work and results of the hearing sessions of women victims of human rights violation during the armed conflict. The High Commissioner to the National Commission of Inquiry.
7. Women Solidarity Network. (2019). بيان إدانة لما تتعرض له النساء والفتيات من اعتقالات تعسفية في المناطق الخاضعة لسيطرة جماعة الحوثي [Condemndation letter to what women and girls are subjected in the Houthi-controlled areas]. Women Solidarity Network.
8. Women4Yemen Network . (2018). Arbitrary arrest and detention of Yemeni Women jeopardizes gender equality and peace; threatens Stockholm Agreement. Women4Yemen Network .
9. Women4Yemen Network. (2019). WFP decision to halt aid is an indicator of a larger problem of crushed civil space, affecting the lives of millions of Yemenis and threatening opportunities for sustainable peace . Women4Yemen Network.
July 4th, 2019
Women4Yemen Network is a group of women activists in media, human rights, civil society and academia. We work towards achieving sustainable peace, security and stabilization by empowering, advocating for and mobilizing women in Yemen.