A prostitute reveals her story (Part 1 of 2) [Archives:2006/929/Reportage]

March 16 2006

By: Hakim Almasmari
hakim_almasmari@ hotmail.com

On a warm night in the heart of Sana'a, streets were filled with locals and visitors enjoying the capital's beautiful night views. The weather was idyllic.

On my way home from work at around 10 p.m., I thought to grab a quick snack from a nearby restaurant. I entered and gave my order. I wanted to eat as quickly as possible, fearing that it was getting too late.

I was sitting across from the restaurant's window when something unexpected happened. I noticed a young teenaged girl looking toward my direction. I completely ignored her, but I couldn't eat with someone staring at me. I asked for my food to be wrapped up, deciding to eat at home rather than in the restaurant.

As I walked outside, I felt like someone was trying to tell me something. I turned around and saw the same teenaged girl following me. She said nervously, “Could you please help me?”

I turned around and handed her the food I had, thinking she was hungry, but she didn't accept it. I put my hand in my wallet and offered her some money, but she refused that as well. “Thank you, but I only want to speak to you. Please help me,” she said as she wept.

I couldn't believe my eyes. I never imagined being put in an awkward situation where I didn't know how to react. I asked her peacefully and calmly, “What's the matter?” She replied, “Can we go somewhere alone? I need to talk to you.”

I hesitated at first because I didn't know her, but her emotions and sadness bought out my mercy, so I agreed to sit with her in a nearby restaurant. I didn't order food, fearing it might open unwanted doors. Water was the only thing on our table. She finally looked at me shyly and helplessly and began talking.

The following story is narrated as heard from the lost teenager who calls herself S.M.R.

I am originally from a well-respected family in Taiz. Never did I think my life would turn out as it is now. My parents loved me very much because I was all they had in life. Very smart in school and loved by teachers and friends, I enjoyed my young life as a teenager, experiencing new and different things each day. I was only 17 at that time.

Unfortunately, my mother passed away when I was young and my father was a poor old man who could support us only to a certain point due to his low salary and the many expenses of everyday life. Two years after my mother died, my father decided to marry again. I lived with my father and his wife and life was as normal as it could be. My father was always very kind and loving, always wanting what was better for me in the future.

Months later, he became very ill and we spent a lot of money treating him. Our financial situation got worse. I couldn't get what I wanted most of the time; however, I was pleased with the little we had.

Over the months, many relatives and neighbors came to ask for my hand in marriage. Unfortunately, one after the other, all were refused. When I turned 18, life worsened for my family and things began to change dramatically for the worst.

While living in that critical situation, a rich businessman suddenly came to ask for my hand in marriage. I was very happy, even though I had no information about the type of person he was. From my point of view, it was enough that he was rich, as he could at least help make our financial situation better.

Two weeks later, my father approached me openly and told me the truth. He said the man was 53 years old, nearly three times my age. At that moment, I instantly refused.

My father and aunt began reasoning with me, saying, “We are a poor family. At least he will guarantee you a life far from the poverty and low standard of life you have now.” I thought it over carefully and understood what my father meant, so I willingly agreed to marry the businessman.

Our wedding took place three weeks later and it was a day to remember. My husband and I had a wonderful time together and shared many great experiences. I got almost everything I ever wanted. I felt like I was the most blessed woman in the world. My way of life changed so quickly that it felt as if it was a dream.

Five months after my marriage, my father became very ill and passed away after three days of hospitalization. My aunt suffered the most, as she was left alone with no one to take care of her after my father's death.

I politely asked my husband if my aunt could move in with us so I could take care of her. He happily agreed with no hesitation. I was relieved, but little did I know this would turn out to be the most tragic mistake of my young life To be continued in the next issue.