Yemeni Women and the College of Medicine Aftermath [Archives:2000/24/Focus]

June 12 2000

By: Mohammed Hatem Al-Qadhi,
Managing Editor, Yemen Times
Yemen is a conservative country in which women are trying very hard to locate themselves in society. Before the revolution woman were among the most suppressed and marginalized groups in society. And in post-revolution Yemen, they have not gained a lot for most of them are still illiterate and suffer due to social and health problems. However, they were encouraged in some areas to join school and university as they can help lead the drive of development in society. In post unification Yemen, they were, though it is not enough, given a room to show their merits and voice their interests. The Empirical Research and Women Study Center(ERWSC) meant a lot for Yemeni women as it gave them scope to discuss their problems. In other words, the center was a good institution that was doing fine for the interests of Yemeni women. However, the jerks mobilized to demolish it and nip it in the bud and they succeeded. Why? Because the key Yemeni women did not group together to defend their rights. Their fault is that they personalize their differences and this results in the loss of their rights which, of course, affects the question of Yemeni women at large.
Of course, this is one aspect of the backsliding of the Yemeni women’s movement in post- unification Yemen. The other one which is of greater impact is the murder crime of the college of medicine. I believe the crime incorporates a setback for educated Yemeni women. How? Let me tell you. As I said earlier Yemeni society is very conservative. It has begun slowly to accept values which they considered, and ,of course, some still behold this belief, odd and alien to the society’s social fabric. Among such values is the education of women. This applies more to the tribal part of the society. Hussn’s father of Hamdan’s tribe has rebelled against the norms of the tribe and allowed his daughter to go to university. And Hussn was to be the first female doctor in Hamdan. Her father paid the price of his decision twice. First, he was laughed at by the tribesmen as he broke the social barriers and sent his daughter to university. However, he could tolerate that.
When Hussn disappeared, the tribesmen made fun of him and told him that education had perverted his daughter as they thought she eloped with somebody. That was very painful for Hussn’s father and because of that sorrow he passed away. Now, Hussn is proved to have been raped and killed inside the lofty institution. This incident forms a staggering experience not only for the tribesmen but for the society as well. It is a nightmarish experience that shocked the Yemeni consciousness very strongly. Now people even the educated reconsider the education of women. Who could now convince the tribesmen of Hamdan to send their daughters to university?
The conservative social structure and tradition which fences the Yemeni mind with a lot of taboos is also responsible for this crime. The tribesman of Hamdan felt ashamed to report the missing of his daughter. If the Iraqi lady had not worked hard to get Adam arrested, he would have killed a lot more Yemeni women. Therefore, we have paid the price of our conservativeness and it is time we considered some outdated aspects of our social structure.
Finally, the college of medicine crime and its aftermath impact on education of women is a real setback for Yemeni women. It really needs our full concern and attention. Otherwise, it would drive Yemeni women back into history and demolish the achievements which they have made. All key women and educated people in general should join hands to study the problem and try to get a way out, will they?