Husband’s House: A Threat to Women’s Rights [Archives:2002/05/Reportage]

January 28 2002

Yassir Al-Myassi
Haifa Sadiq
The proposed law of husband’s house law has caused a lot of controversy over its legitimacy and violations of women rights. Yemen Times surveyed the views of leading women involved in advocating women’s rights and filed the following excerpts.
Ibtihaj Saeed al-Khaebah, Chairwoman of the PGC women sector in Aden, said: This is not a law. There is a debate over two articles within the pleading law as well as the direct execution procedures of the article No. 371 and 372. The contents of these two articles will entitle the law-enforcement authorities to force women against their wills. The proposed law has been rejected by all walks of life. In fact, the endorsement of such law is also inconsistent with the Constitution of the Republic of Yemen beside the international conventions signed by Yemen.
Khawla Ahmed Sharaf, a former MP and a leading women freedom advocate, pointed out that she was shocked by the content of the proposed law. If this law was approved, it would deal a fatal blow to the status of women in Yemen. This law is totally unacceptable for the most part since it is un-Islamic. The Holy Quran ordered Muslims either to live in a harmonious marital life or to break off their relation in case they failed to live in harmony. This means that there is no marital life by force and this is a true indication of the tolerance of Islam. Based on Islamic teachings, the matrimonial life between spouses should be founded on respect, mercy and compassion. Besides, many of the Prophet Mohammed’s traditions entitle women to say yes or no to issues pertaining to marriage and divorce. Ulama (Islamic clerics) of Yemen rejected this law since it is not in any way related to Islam and on this basis it should not be ratified. During the meeting, which held for this end, women from all the spectrums of the society issued an appeal to the President of the Republic, MPs, Premiere, State Minister of Human Rights, requesting the annulment of these articles. Our demand is based on evidences derived from the Quran and Prophet Mohammed’s traditions that prove Islam’s rejection of such a law, she said.
Elham Ali Sallam, Secretary of the Information & Culture Division of Yemen’s Women Union, indicated that the approval of the marital obedience law would breed lots of problems for Yemeni families. She said the law would have unavoidable negative impacts on Yemeni families and would also be the source of many criminal offenses arising between spouses. I do not think there is a person who will accept that his daughter or sister reluctantly taken by security authorities to her husbands house. Plus, fining women and dropping their entitlements that have been prescribed by Allah, are grave violations of the Islamic law. Many Arab countries which used to have such a law have annulled it, including Egypt, she added.