Saturday, April 5, 2014

Yemeni Women’s Rights to Political Participation at Risk

Photo by Arwa Othman

Constituting Women’s Rights Support Group is calling the President Hadi, political parties and forces being committed to 30% women’s quota

Sana’a- March 30th, 2014

Regretfully, Constituting Women’s Rights Support Group, a group of Yemeni women activists, coalitions and organizations, condemns the under-representation of women’s 30% quota in the committee of Regions’ Division and the Constitution Drafting Committee which was lately appointed by Presidential resolution on 9 March 2014.

We, hereby, as interestingly and closely monitor the political progress has been made in association with the implementation of the National Dialogue Conference’s outputs, believe that women’s under-representation in the aforementioned committees violated the rights to democratic participation, social justice, equal citizenship and equal access to opportunities which are clearly stated in the National Dialogue Conference final document and its guarantees.

Constituting Women’s Rights Support Group is stressing on the right of quota representation and calling national and international parties to reaffirm their commitment towards the NDC outputs and the UNSCR 2140 of 2014 by taking all measurements and actions that insure the quota representation of women, youth, marginalized people and people with disabilities and southern people in the future structuring of the National Authority, the Shora Council and the Cabinet. So women representation should be as follows:-

1.The National Authority: at least (85) women out of (282) members.
2.The Shora Council: at least (67) women out of (222) members.
3.The new Cabinet: at least (10) ministries headed by women.

Trusting that the historical mission on building the civil state of Yemen begins with having all formal and informal political structures and parties strongly believe and committed to the right of equal participation and partnership of Yemeni people (women, youth and other social strata). Therefore, we hold the President and all political parties and forces the national responsibility and accountability for fulfilling the NDC outputs and guarantees which are represent the aspirations of Yemeni people, especially women, in political participation and development.

Constituting Women’s Rights Support Group:-

- FawZ (Win) Women Network,
- Volunteers Network for Women’s Rights,
- Sisters Arab Forum for Human Rights,
- Constituting Women’s Rights Campaign,
- Yemeni Foundation for Social Studies,
- Etar Foundation for Social Development,
- Al-Afeef Cultural Foundation,
- Amal Alliance
- Alliance of Supporting Women’s Issues,
- Ngem (Southern Women) Alliance,
- Da’em (Support) Initiative to Support UNSCR 1325 on Women and Peace,
- Ms. Nabila Al Zubair, Writer,
- Ms. Arwa Abdo Othman, Chairperson of Heritage House Foundation,
- Ms. Alia Faisal Al Shaiebi, Chairperson of Al Faisal Org on Forcedly Disappearance and Torture,
- Dr. Faten Adbo Mohammed, Academician,
- Ms. Samia Al Hadad, Media & Communication Specialist,
- Ms. Saher Ghanem, Youth activist,
- Ms. Latifa Noman, Business womanُ
- Ms. Entisar Sinan, Activist.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Follow-up: wife murdered by husband after her photo shared on Facebook

On Sunday the 23rd of March evening, I came across a piece of news about a young lady called, Salwa Al-khawlani through the veteran women's rights activist and former member in the national dialogue conference, Arwa Othman. Othman posted a picture of Al-khowlani with a text, telling about the murder of Al-khawlani by her husband after her picture was shared on Facebook. Othman also enclosed the link to that piece of news.

Then, as I was enraged by a such horrifying incident, I made a blog entry, retelling the story in English and gave my explanation. I posted the blog post on Facebook and Twitter, and the link went viral. More than 20 thousand people read the post around the world over the past week. That's the highest readership I have ever gotten for a one single post. While trying to manage my surprise, I pondered on the story's credibility. Readers' reaction also had some skepticism, even though the majority did not doubt the story.

Essentially, some of the criticism I received was: it's a fake story, and if it was a true story, I should have taken off the picture because I was defaming the murdered girl. My response to such criticism is whether the story was fake or true, I did my research and found out that the news was originally published by Huna Aden – a newly-established online newspaper, and few online forums talked about Al-khawlani too. I contacted Huna Aden, asking further about the story but I received no answer. 

I blogged about the story and made sure to mention the phrases, like; “reportedly” and “it's one of the rare stories” in ordered to emphasis that I have a belief that the information given was not necessarily true. The truth of the matter is the story is very plausible within Yemen’s conservative context and that is what drove me to blog it. Despite that, I make no any detraction and I underline that the story was not necessarily true.

In respect of posting Al-khawlani picture, my intention was, as always, to provide a proof about the story. I have blogged about horrific human rights violations and atrocities with graphic images and I see this post no different than the others.

In essence, when we write “reportedly” we make a strong expression that we believe that the story is not necessarily true. As a reader, you have to recognize that. Additionally, this specific story on one hand could be easily understood that it reinforces an orientalist point of view on easterners, and on the other hand it could really contextualize the conservatism grip on the Yemeni society. As an eastern myself, I have no intention to be orientalist on my own society's issues. I'm the product of that conservative society and I know how it can suffocate its women. My objection to the orientalist standpoint is that it very rarely talks about the ladies who are challenging conservatism and breaking through – stories of such ladies are one of the main topics of my blogging since I started in 2010.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A wife murdered by husband after her photo spread on Facebook

A young wife was murdered by her husband after her "revealing" photo was widely shared on Facebook. She had nothing to do with it except that she unfortunately sold her mobile, believing that she fully erased the data the mobile had. This incident is one of the rare incidents of such matter but it says very much about the conservatism grip on Yemen's society.

Reportedly, the beautiful wife's photo was used by unknown person who bought the mobile in Ibb province. Then, he used the photo to create a fake account on Facebook with the name Salma Al-Khowlani, gaining a great deal of online popularity due to the wife's beautiful physique. Next, somehow, the husband happened to recognize his wife's photo on the screen of someone at an internet cafe (internet cafes in Yemen are unbelievably popular). Fully in rage, the husband rushed to his wife, stabbing her to death.

Females' photos in Yemen are greatly considered as a sensitive matter. On the one hand, it's absolutely unacceptable to take photos of adult females, especially if they were not veiled, unless permission is granted. On the other hand, as males are to a great extent segregated from the other sex, there is an intense curiosity towards the other sex, and misuse of any relationship between males and females. Again, this is one of the most rare incidents.

It's very troubling to think about such conservatism leading to aweful social problems as such. If only the guy who had the mobile didn't have a rotten mind and if only the husband was more considerate!

Original story can be found here (in Arabic) and I came across it through the veteran Yemeni women's rights advocate, Arwa Othman.

* * *
Do you want a follow-up on this story? Read Here.

Yemen's nonexistent health care

"Even basic cases such as giving birth can be deadly in Yemen. It is unbelievable for example that eight women die giving birth every day.

Most people have to travel quite a distance to get to a clinic or hospital. When they do, it is often extremely expensive. With no health insurance, if a life threatening disease infects someone, or an accident occurs, people have to either borrow money to pay for the expenses, or accept the harsh reality that they can not afford the treatment and therefore must wait to die.... " - Atiaf Alwazeer

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Yemen marks 3rd anniversary of the Friday of dignity massacre

Today, Yemen marks the 3rd anniversary of the Friday of dignity massacre, and Yemen has still never got its dignity. Kudos to the martyrs!

"Three years have passed since the ‘Friday of Dignity’ killings and the Yemeni authorities have yet to carry out a credible investigation or deliver justice. Promises that an independent commission of inquiry would be set up by President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi remain unfulfilled. By dragging their feet over ensuring a full and impartial investigation into these deaths, Yemen’s authorities are sending a disturbing message that justice and accountability are not a priority for them." -Amnesty

Photos by Mohammed Al-Emad.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

On The Popular Committees of Abyan, Yemen

From a documentary on Al Qaeda in Yemen, watch below. 

"The government needs to take urgent measures to bring the popular committees under the purview of the Ministry of Interior and into the police forces. Not only will that prevent the popular committees from becoming a problem, but it might also bring about much needed security reforms in a country where a weak central government has often relied on informal structures to face crises and security threats." 
 -Nadwa Al-Dawsari, via Middle East Institute

Friday, March 14, 2014

Yemen: Lethal Force Against Southern Protesters

A woman Lieutenant was put in jail after refusing to marry an officer

Yemeni Lieutenant first class, Hanan Ja'afar has been released last night from prison, after being imprisoned for one day because she reportedly refused to marry an officer secretly. Ja'afar is one of the few Yemeni women lieutenants and she has been a public figure, using Facebook to share details of her work and experiences, with Yemen's online community.

She firstly wrote on her Facebook page, on 12th March, "I'm now in jail, my friends. Please support me against this man, he has smeared my morals and the director of security has been in his side, unfortunately."A bit later, she wrote, "the director of security jailed me because I complained against Almuhiem and I raised my weapon in front of him in self-defence after he called me names. Please help me!"

Ja'afar was released last night after a number of police officers and others intervened to help her. She named and thanked them all in her last Facebook status here. It's still not confirmed if she was in jail because she refused marrying an officer, but this Yemeni online forum suggests so and also the Facebook status of Yemeni political expert, Nadwa Dawsari-Johnson.