A Journey of Agony [Archives:2000/24/Reportage]

June 12 2000

Sovereignty of law is what characterizes the civilized societies everywhere and everytime. One of the manifestations of enforcing law and realizing justice is the court to which people resort to settle their disputes and differences in pursuit of justice. Constitutions usually guarantee independence of judiciary power and stipulate that courts’ decisions and judgments must be mandatory for the executive power to carry out. When implementation of such verdicts is neglected or delayed, whether on purpose or not, it ushers an abnormal phenomenon and a dangerous precedence. It needs to be studied carefully and rectified before it becomes ordinary and consequently mars the application and implementation of justice in societies. If thus would be the case it means the loss of judiciary prestige and sovereignty of chaos and injustice and people might be pondering to take the law in their hands.
What has aroused this short comment is the following story of an Uzbekstani woman who for some years now has been suffering from the delay or perhaps negligence in implementing certain court decisions. The verdict was decided in her favor but so far she gained nothing but more frustration and disappointment added to her previous ones. It is really a humanitarian case needs to be considered seriously and immediate solutions be effected in her favor.
Can you ever fancy yourself in a country where you neither know the people nor their language? What if you are a woman? What if your only way of salvation is the courtroom? This in short is the story of Esveit Lana and her 4-year long journey of anguish and pain because the court’s judgment in her favor has not been enforced even with the elapse of years since its issuance. The story does not only tell us the suffering of a woman who has been aggressively divorced by her Yemeni husband and deprived her of the children, but sheds more light on the vulnerability of our judicial system that has no power to make justice prevail.
Esveit Lana met Aaref Salem Faraj, from Lahj, in Uzbekistan in 1991 when she was only 17. They fell in love with each other and got married. At the end of the same year they traveled to Lahj in Yemen, Aaref’s city, to spend the summer holidays. Then they traveled back to Uzbekistan because the husband had to complete his university studies. In 1993, they again left for Lahj along with Anita, their daughter. She stayed back in Lahj while her husband returned to complete the last year of his studies.
When the civil war of 1994 broke out, Esveit Lana wanted to go back home. She traveled but her husband prevented her from taking her daughters, Anita and Randa with her promising that he would follow her accompanied by them later on.
In 1994, Aaref arrived in Uzbekistan to tell his wife that she would neither return with him to Yemen nor she could see her daughters any more. In fact, the aim of his trip to Uzbekistan this time was to marry a new Russian girl.
It was very hard for Esveit to live away from her daughters. So she decided to travel again to Lahj for the sake of her daughters. When she knew that her husband had married another woman she asked for divorce. She was divorced on 18/12/96 which marked the beginning of her journey of endless suffering and knocking at the doors of law courts.

Esveit Lana in Courts
Feeling shut out from society without her children except Aiman who was born in Lahj, and after all her attempts to get help from the Russian Embassy or any other people failed, she had no choice except seeking justice in law courts. “I had been in courts since 18/12/96 until I got a verdict in my favor from Al-Hawtah Court in 7/10/98 to get back my children,” said Esveit Lana. “However, all have been only in papers,” she concluded.
According to the court verdict, children must be brought up with their mother. In addition, the husband must pay for the mother’s substinence for the past two years, besides paying her a monthly pension to cover school fees, clothes and medicine for the children. But nothing has yet been seen in reality. Appealing to all charitable organizations and societies Esveit said: “Now I don’t want anything more than a ticket to go back home,” she said.
As if this is not bad enough, Esveit Lana’s passport has been impounded by the Immigration and Passports Authority so as to prevent her from leaving for her country along with her children. The Authority asked for US$ 1000 in order to release her passport. Only Aiman lives with her while Anita and Randa are still in their father’s custody in contradiction of the verdict of the court.
Jalal Al-Sharaabi