The first question I wanted to answer was: what makes a woman in Yemen? This will give context for the following question that will be answered. The response was pulled from a book called Women’s Rights, Human Rights: International Feminist Perspectives by J.S. Peters and Andrea Wolper. In the chapter about contextualizing gender and labor, the Yemeni socio-economy was used as an example. It was argued that each country has a unique geographical and historical condition, and that is what determines how a woman is treated. For Yemen, it is not the religion, Islam, that determines gender roles but rather from various internal and external factors. These include severe labor migration, nationalist struggles against local power, social revolutions, and the hierarchical social classes. In Yemen, being a woman depends on your race, class, and labor role more than the biological differences. Women in the upper class do have more opportunities for work and education but are stripped of those when the needs of the state changes. On the other hand, women in the lower class are forced to work twice as hard and get no compensation. When a child is born, they are born into a complex system of rules and codes that they will learn to navigate and fall subject to.
The next question I felt was important to address was: how are women and girls treated in Yemen? With the violent war raging and threatening people every day, it has brought much turmoil to the women of Yemen. The foreign news article told their story of hardship. Women have been humiliated by the war, suffering disproportionately compared to men. They have been displaced, traumatized, killed, and exposed to the highest forms of cruelty by both parties. Their need for medical and humanitarian aid has been denied, also by both parties at war. Young girls are married off at a very early age to provide a dowry that will support their families. Being married is a big change in a girl’s life because they are to leave their own families and do as her husband says. When about 80% of the population lives in poverty, using children to make money is common practice. The women and girls have absolutely no control over their circumstances and are doing all they can to survive.
An article by the United Nations further expands on how women and girls are treated. Violence against women was common before the war, but the chaos has brought upon more abuse than ever. The directors of the UN women’s shelter stated, “we have noticed that domestic violence has increased, and divorce rate is on rise.” Most women have never known a life without violence. According to a 2013 survey, 92% of women said violence was common in the home. I can only imagine that the number has increased after the war started in 2015. The violence doesn’t just come from men and the government, but also other women and members of the family. Truly, there is a different type of brokenness here. There is a culture of violence in Yemen, and women are most subject to it on top of the social norms that have already been set and the chaos that the war has brought.
Al-Karimi, K. (2018, March 26). Yemeni women reflect on war in a city ravaged by air attacks. Retrieved from https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/yemeni-women-reflect-war-city-ravaged-air-strikes-180325090456789.html
Peters, J., & Wolper, A. (1995). Womens rights, human rights: International feminist perspectives. New York: Routledge.
United Nations Populations Fund. (2016, October 31). Violence against women escalates under Yemen’s brutal conflict. Retrieved from https://www.unfpa.org/news/violence-against-women-escalates-under-yemens-brutal-conflict