Statement of Women4Yemen Network on the Status of Women’s Rights in Yemen in Human Rights Council
Mr. Vice President
We are here today to inform you 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. False prostitution charges designed to scare women activists:
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 trail:
Women detained know that they will neither receive proper treatment, nor a fair trial, worsened by social stigma, and media blackout.
3. Restriction on women-led efforts for peace:
Houthi groups forced women-led organizations to prohibit the word ‘peace’ and make it difficult to work in peace building interventions, threatening them to shut down their organizations. If they continue, they face retaliation. The detention of peace activist Awfaa Al-Naami is one example.
4. Restricted mobility:
While many women have lost their male relatives or are widows, both conflict parties demand women to be escorted by men to travel. At check points, they face humiliation, sexual harassment and immoral searches and sometimes even get murdered.
5. Engendering violence:
Houthis designed a security agency and using women “thugs” called "Zainaibiyat," to attack and detain women protestors or opponents.
6. Denial of assembly rights by all conflict parties:
Women peaceful protesters and activists 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.
7. Character assassination and widespread defamation campaigns by all conflict parties.
8. Systematic enhancement of negative gender norms and increasing restrictions on women’s activism.
-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.
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, Director 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 Mothers of Abductees Association.
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] (p. 302). 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.