Abuse of Women in Yemen

In nations such as Yemen, women are fighting for their rights even in the face of official indifference. Anisa al-Shuaibi, is an example, of what may happen to a woman once the spectre of sexual abuse arises. In most such cases, it is the victim who suffers, not victimizers. Ms. al-Shuaibi, was raped by officers of the Criminal Investigation unit, but reaction of family and friends was to throw her out. As she put it: “It is hard for the woman to talk about such issues. Are we to keep silent even when one was raped?”

At a conference last week of women from many Middle Eastern and African nations, women gathered to share stories about their fight for obtaining dignity and respect. One story told was of a young bride who shocked her husband on their wedding night when he discovered she was not çircumcised. He sent her home demanding that circumcision be done. After the circumcision, the woman committed suicide since she could not live with the pain.

Yemeni Human Rights Minister, Huda Al-Bari, estimates that while many girls in urban areas are obtaining education, those in rural areas lack such opportunities and are forced into early marriage. As she stated: “Islam forbids oppression, so why do we still oppress one another. The law also prevents circumcision, so it should be easy to get rid of such a problem.” One can only hope women like Ms. Al-Bari will continue fighting and be successful in the fight against circumcision.