A study by the Yemen Ministry of Interior reveals widespread sexual abuse of children in primary schools in Yemen. The report listed 606 incidents but observers believe that is not accurate due to cultural beliefs which prevent people from reporting such cases. A female teacher in Sana’a said poverty plays a major role in sexual abuse because with a little money an older boy can readily obtain cooperation from a younger child. Another teacher noted it was common in Yemen primary schools for 14-17 year-old students to be present since they have been stuck in the same grade for years. She commented: “The presence of older students in children’s classrooms is dangerous enough to poison our children’s minds, so they should be separated.” it is common in Yemen for older students to attend school in the morning and younger ones in the afternoon which places the older one free to harass children. Jamal Al-Sami, chairman of the Democracy School, a local NGO, notes that sexual abuse of children is a taboo no one dares to talk about and which people prefer keeping quiet rather than informing security authorities. “People are afraid of shame and scandal.”
There is limited sexual education in Yemen schools which results in myths and hidden feelings among children. Last year, Al-Sami organized a sexual education program in his school which included posters and information being disseminated to children and parents. He even developed a guide for use by local police and is working to improve the juvenile court system.