A reflection of the state of chaos .. No travel except with the permission of the husband

Sana’a – Hamdi Galib

Marwa Al-Areeqi was surprised by the categorical refusal of a group transport company to request a travel ticket from Sanaa to Aden, unless accompanied by Muharrem, or by his presence in the company, and the signing of an official document that he is the guarantor and completely. responsible for her travel. Al-Areeqi is a journalist and a working woman, but she felt frustrated, her rights and freedom of movement were diminished and she was treated as a minor.

Al-Araiqi was eventually able to travel, but many of the women were hindered by transport companies and representatives of the Houthi (Ansar Allah) group Security and Intelligence Service; They check the names of the passengers, inspect the vehicles before the start of the trip and remove any woman who has no mahram from the vehicle.

humiliating actions

According to Human Rights Watch in its report on events in Yemen for 2021, in 2019 the Houthi group issued directives to local travel companies requiring a mahram to accompany women when traveling between Yemeni governments. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Yemeni women face movement restrictions, particularly in the Houthi-controlled Hudaydah and Hajjah governments; Authorities asked them to be accompanied by a Mahram to travel.

The feminist leader “Safaa” did not expect such measures to be applied to her after she was over 45 years old and thought that the issue was limited to underage and unknown girls, but was surprised by the strict instructions to ban travel. “Safaa” (a pseudonym at the request of the source) is a first-class feminist leader, and she held a number of senior positions in the state and rose to the rank of deputy minister, as well as chairing a number of community organizations and bodies, but the record its rich professionalism and higher certifications did not make it exempt from directives.just. Safaa says, “The transport company asked me to confirm my caretaker’s approval for my trip and confirmed that this is a basic condition for travel.” She adds: “It is unfortunate and humiliating that women are barred from traveling without the consent of the guardian. and that a woman my age, qualifications, and job position should seek her brother’s approval. smaller to travel. ”

Violations and harassment by armed men and measures to prevent women from traveling were not the result of the moment, they were preceded by harassment, blackmail and arrests at security checkpoints between governments in previous years, until the trip turned into a terrible nightmare. and women turn to her only when forced. Many incidents of mahram escort stress on vehicles recurred as they moved between Houthi-controlled provinces, and its militants have asked a series of questions to women traveling alone and asking men traveling with women to verify relationships. their with them, presenting e.g. marriage contract certificate.

According to the Mwatana Organization for Human Rights, violations against women were repeated at one of the Houthi group’s security checkpoints in the Naqil Islah area (40 kilometers south of Sana’a), where gunmen stopped women traveling. blackmailed and seized passports claiming to be traveling without a mahram. In its “Moments from Hell” report, the organization documented a number of incidents, including the arrest of four women at the same security checkpoint by gunmen after returning from one of the southern governments around 11pm on one of November 2021, to begin a journey of extortion and harassment, verbal abuse, filing charges and questioning them by 5:00 p.m. One of the women says: “The investigators were seven armed men, full of verbal harassment and disgusting suggestions, and they put terrible psychological pressure on us for six hours in a row, took our passports, prevented us from getting out of the car. they searched our phones, computers and bags and the investigation rudely described us as a “prostitution cell”. “They did not allow us to leave, except after we vowed not to travel without mahram anymore.” In another incident mentioned in the report, in mid-January 2021, a woman in her thirties was detained by the group’s gunmen for several hours at a checkpoint near the city of Hajjah (about 123 kilometers northwest of the capital, Sana’a). ). under the pretext of mahram travel and she was threatened, abused and threatened.prison and discipline. The woman says in the report: “The gunmen looked at me as if they had caught me in the act, and I shouted and insulted them with inappropriate words and the security officer asked me: Are you still a virgin ?!” The organization indicated that in a subsequent circular, in September 2021, it was stipulated that a woman should be prohibited from stopping a bus or car (including public transport) without a mahram, and these directives applied in the city of Hajj, and an amount of 200,000 rials (equivalent to 330 thousand US dollars) and a cow head (known social fine), for those who violate these directives.


Directives banning women from traveling without mahram reflect the state of chaos and statelessness the country is experiencing and express the views of its owners who want to place women in custody, according to feminist activist and head of the Alf Ba Foundation, Bahia Hassan. Hassan believes that the jurisprudence of the de facto “Houthi group” authority came as a result of exaggeration and strictness towards women and expresses a state of confusion, as the presence of Mahram should not be necessary except in the absence of security in travel, as was the case in times ancient.

Illegal measures have had a significant negative impact on women’s movements and their participation in public and private life, as well as casting a shadow over the situation of women, influencing their movement and the performance of the tasks assigned to them, and have caused some to choose to travel and move less to avoid these harassments. Hassan says: “Women are semi-active in society and the war changed roles and became the breadwinner for many families, but these unjust measures hindered her freedom of movement and prevented her from providing for the family. Safaa agrees that the directives hindered women’s work and their external participation, which helps them gain experience and gain skills. She claims that some women have lost their jobs because of this decision; Because some jobs require permanent relocation between governments or sometimes travel abroad, which deprives them of the ability to continue to support their families and pay the costs of educating their children, and this leads to the ignorance of future generations. and makes them easy. prey for gangs, and they may end up getting involved in crimes and drug abuse.

violation of privacy

Yemeni law is equal between men and women and none of them is forbidden to travel, except for orders issued by a judicial authority, because of the person’s connection to a specific case or crime. says lawyer and human rights activist Moaz Al-Qurashi. He added: “The role of women in society requires that they be given the right to move and their travel is not considered a crime or shameful behavior, but the defect in the mind refuses to correct the extremist concepts they have learned, and is a reflection. of patriarchal culture in society. ”Al-Qurashi asserts that virtue is law, and anyone who tries to create virtue with such reckless behavior is unaware of the depths to which it is falling.

The measures to prevent women from traveling were not the first gesture the Houthi group practiced against women and had previously prevented girls from working in cafes, raiding abaya shops and burning threads that had been placed at the waist and campaigning for it. burn socks exhibitions and deleted photos of women from hairdressing shops, wedding dress rental shops and many other practices

The problem is that the women’s dossier has become political and withdrawn by the parties to the conflict, and these proceedings were preceded by harassment and followed by campaigns of distortion of women, under the pretext of customs, traditions and honor, according to Bahia Hassan. resisting the marginalization of half of society.

(This article was produced as part of the Yemen Gender Newsroom project implemented by the Media Sac Foundation for Media and Development).

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