A movie: Queens of Yemen [Archives:2003/653/Culture]

July 24 2003

A. Bafadel
President of Human Dialogue Association (H.D.A)
[email protected]

On Sunday 13 July, the British Ambassador to Yemen Mrs. Frances Guy gave a reception party at the British embassy building, including a film show on Yemeni Women. The film was financed by the British Embassy, and produced by Ms. G. Torrubia.
The film impressed the audience in its professional photography, sound, personalities, and in the affairs its theme has tackled, i.e. Yemeni women. Three samples of Yemeni women are chosen from various segments of the society to build its theme on.
One was about a woman who struggled hard to continue her studies until she graduated as a doctor in medicine. The second was about a Yemeni woman who fought severely to carry out her own business to support and finance her children's education while her husband was merely a passive burden on the family. He only chewed Qat and spent the whole day with his idle friends. The third example was that of the strong Yemeni woman, who is distinguished by her role in fighting for her rights -and other women and human rights- to take them by all means through law and constitution. The third example resembled a tireless woman who also fought to have her inheritance despite the fact that it should have been given to her by law, but it never happened.
A lively discussion followed the film and was concentrated on two main points: right to education, and violence against women.
The film in my point of view is phase 1 regarding Yemen women affairs. It shows actual situation in Hodeidah and Taiz regions. We hope that other phases will follow to show other aspects of family life in other Yemeni areas, and also to show development of women education today all over Yemen Universities.
My intervention concerning parents' opposition to education not only for women, it happened to me personally in Hadhramout. My father didn't allow me to go to intermediate school in Ghail Bawazeer, because I will be corrupted!! The only way that I escaped, in his absence, and he tried to bring me back by car, but fortunately he couldn't get me. Even my marriage took place without consulting neither me nor the mother of my children- both of us were forced at that time, in 1969.
So women issues in Yemen can be solved with time, by spreading education all over the country especially in rural places when 80% of the people live there.
As to the injustice mentioned by one brilliant lady, as dealt with according to the laws in Yemen, the husband for instance has the right to kill his wife if he finds her with another man, but meanwhile the wife has not the same right to kill the husband if she finds him with another woman!! The only punishment the betraying husband receives is an imprisonment for one year!! Such a light sentence is not even given for killing an animal!!
This argument is misinterpreted; because I assisted myself the discussion of this article in National committee for Women. The main philosophy behind the law is that if the husband finds his wife at home with another man in bed in an improper situation, he might involuntary use his weapon to kill both. In such a case he is not guilty; but if the wife finds him in the same situation with another woman, she must make sure that the woman is not another wife for him. Because by law, if a husband is found practicing adultery, the court will punish him by death penalty.
As to violence against woman, I think really that a large portion of woman suffers from domestic violence due to illiteracy of their husbands as well as ignorance of rights and duties of both husband and wife.
Although the holy Quran mentions the possibility of beating the wife, the prophet gave its limits and restricted its form as follows:
It is the last thing to happen after discussion and advice, then sleeping away in the same room to show your anger. Then of course quarreling might take place and hands might be used. As to the wife no restriction to use her hands in any way she likes, if she can. But the husband is restricted by the following:
Do not touch the face!! Meanwhile all movies, the husband slaps the wife on the face.
Do not insult her femininity and beauty.
Do not break any bone.
Do not cause a wound or flesh damage.
Finally, do not leave any trace on the body.
With all these conditions how a husband can beat his wife?! Moreover the law states clearly that if it happened that you break a bone, or caused a wound, or a trace is found on the body, the judge demands the same from the husband: eye for eye, tooth for tooth, etc.
As to women rights in Yemen, they are far better than in the west, except that application of laws is null unfortunately. I think with ladies graduates from faculties of law; they can create their own offices for women lawyers, to carry out women affairs in courts.
As to rights compared to women in the west: She carries her father and mother names until death, the same as man, and not her husband's name like most western countries.
She gets the same salary as man if she has the same qualifications and experience meanwhile the woman in the west has not.
She gets 30% less just because she is a woman even in America the capital of human rights!
She has her share in heritage which might be more or less than the man depending on the situation. The argument that is widely spread that the woman gets half the share of what the man gets is not true. This is only one case for brothers and sisters alone where the brothers get double the share of sisters. But this is on condition that the brothers must spend on living of all the family instead of the father; meanwhile the sisters put their money in their pockets.
She has the right to divorce, if she demands this in the act of marriage only by tongue. Otherwise she has the right through the court and the judge.
A woman has no financial responsibility whatsoever even if she works. Her money is always for her. The husband has no right whatsoever to ask her for her own money. Even if it happens that the woman is very rich, no obligation for her to pay a penny. Family finance and needs are a must on the husband.