New law for freeing Yemeni women from unjust laws [Archives:2005/838/Opinion]

May 2 2005

By Doa'a Al-Kadry
[email protected]

Despite of the Yemeni state's care about women in all aspects of life which is recently increasing, there are still a great number of obstacles and hindrances attributed to the nature of the Yemeni male community that does not look at women as a weak and marginalized creature. The Yemeni society is dominated with customs and traditions that distance women from the participation in the social life and following the modern life. The Yemeni community has a backward rural and tribal nature, therefore most of the problems a woman faces are the unjust legislations and laws against her because she is considered as one of the weakened classes that need to be legally protected. Especially in the social aspect: she is subject to violence, power against her and the penal laws come atop the list, particularly those items dealing with woman rights whether she commits misdeeds or misdeeds are committed against her. Of those law items is what is included in Penal and Crimes Law No. (12) of 1994 featuring antifeminism; the legislative source of those items are weak and they do not rely on right judgments of the Islamic Shary'ah. This allowed a wider opportunity for judiciary personal judgments while dealing with cases and this may let the judge fall in the wrong.

According to the official statistics, we noticed that the crimes committed by Yemeni women are generally low since Yemeni women are less integrated with men; besides, her participation in the social life is few. That is, as mentioned earlier, ascribed to the fact that the Yemeni community is principally of rural nature more than being an urban. There are some things that prevent women to work and integrate with men, therefore studying the legal status and its relations to Yemeni women should occupy an outstanding position among the various studies that deal with the issues of Yemeni women. Hence any study, which has no concern with this topic, has no value in the shadow of the violations of the woman's simplest right.

According to crimes statistics, crimes committed by women are to a great extent lower than those committed by men, especially in the Yemeni society. Even the types of crimes women commit are different in quantity and category from those of men. Crimes committed by women are distinguished with a low rate of violence such as murdering, corporal damages, and kidnapping but instead are crimes of immorality like, adultery, prostitution, blender, intentional and unintentional murdering, theft, alcohol consumption tc. What is more, Yemeni women, similar to men, are subjected to investigations when committing any crime. This takes place when the concerned authorities take a number of legal procedures aiming to limit her freedom either with detention, imprisonment, investigations or trial. In these steps, she faces specific treatment by those authorities: police officers, prosecution members, and judges. This treatment is usually inhumane and savage when practicing psychological and sexual torture, as well as oral insults. The treatment in such cases should have been humane with a reforming feature and managed by a female staff in order to keep the woman's rights, dignity and humanity. Women in cases who are sentenced to imprisonment should have a reforming prison especially for women and their children under supervision of qualified female staffs.

Women should be subjected to penal treatment that is different in the sense that the implementation of programs of reform and qualification throughout various ways, as mentioned in the Yemeni Law of Organizing Prisons and its executive bylaw. Of the ways are education, discipline, vocational labor, health and religious care that aim at socially reforming and training her.

In terms of the rate of frequent crimes committed by women, adultery comes on the top of the list especially in the main cities such as Sana'a, Aden, Taiz, and Hodeidah. That is due to poverty and the deteriorated economical status in addition to the family breaking down as well as the weakness in religious and moral values. The spread of temptation means hotels, night clubs, fun cities, prostitution villas and flats. Robbery comes next because of poor living standards especially in the light of the skyrocketing prices and unemployment.

What is strange is that the number of jailed women who committed adultery in the Central Prisons in cities are more than men who committed the same crime. This simply means that the majority of men who committed adultery escape from punishment either because they are not arrested or are not presented to trial. Unlike women who committed the same crime, the man's high social status or perhaps his denial protected him from punishment.

The difference between men and women's crimes in terms of quantity and category is related to the natural psychological and physical difference between them. Women have a weaker fitness, therefore she stays away from greater crimes such as violence, murdering, stabbing, beating, robbery, kidnapping, banditry tc. which requires specific body strength and readiness.

The difference is ascribed to the social status of men and women and the social role each of them play. Women's social status is represented generally in her educational duties, looking after children and family making her role limited in the society comparing to that of a man, which clearly appears in the Yemeni community. Therefore the average of crimes committed by women (which doesn't exceed 2%) in Yemen is fewer than those of men. This is due to the nature of the Yemeni society and its strict conventions and customs that is considered a hindrance to the wider participation in the social life. Majority of the people, particularly women who live in rural and tribal communities. The role women should play is limited and this justifies the few average of her crimes.