Yemeni Women: Victims of Violence [Archives:2001/40/Reportage]

October 1 2001

Nada Al-Shameri
Yemen Times
The Women’s Forum on Research and Training (WFRT) in collaboration with the Danish Embassy, held a training workshop to help the victims of violence and abuse in the Consultative House Hall from September 16 to 18, 2001. Forty-five participants participated in the forum from an array of sectors, such as army officers from the Criminal Investigating Administration, the Security Administration of advocates, and representatives of non-governmental organizations. The participants covered a number of governates such as Sana’a, Aden, Taiz and Ibb. The person in charge of this workshop talked to the weekly Yemen Times newspaper, Suaad Al-Qadasi explained the main goals of the workshop. “The main aim of the workshop is the careful analysis of the reality of Yemeni society, such as its culture and traditions and the possibility of whether there is a kind of discarding others or hatred among people,” she said. “The workshop has come about as a result of careful study and training workshops in different cities of the republic. The working papers were presented by the participants concentrating on several topics, including local legislation and its mechanisms. We have collaborated with attorneys, researchers, advocates, and non-governmental organizations. The forum is the first of its kind in Yemen. It revolves around the crime in all its forms, with the aim of finding suitable solutions. What next? This question haunted us for a long time, since we intended to establish the forum. Actually, we are not the in charge of finding solutions to the problems, but we will keep in touch with the concerned authorities to deal with problems. The first thing we are going to do is to outline future plans in the form of drafts, in which everything has to be studied and directed towards the legislators and lawmakers. I am pleased that what we have achieved is more than what we expected. Discipline and participation is a clear sign of the success of the workshop,” Al-Qadasi added. The traditional Yemeni way of life is completely against committing crimes, which makes it an ideal society. But the question which poses itself is: is Yemen completely free from violence? Concerning this question, Dr. Salah uddin Haddash, lawyer in international law, a lecturer at Sana’a University, and the person in charge of the practical department in this workshop, said, “We can say that in Yemen, as opposed to other countries, nothing can be mentioned such as violence or crime because of the religious facet, traditions and habits prevailing among the Yemeni people. Undoubtedly, violence can be found in every part of the world, and we here in Yemen see it as well. Economic crises constitute a major problem and it is one of the main reasons of spreading crime and violence. We as Yemenis don’t accept such undesirable acts, but the fact is that Yemeni society is a transitional community in which the South and the North are unified as one nation – this is the Republic of Yemen. Employment among youth is a major cause of aberration which leads to committing crimes. The worst thing is that the Yemeni personality fluctuates between coolness and unflagging enthusiasm. It is known to all that Yemen is a country of democracy and pluralism, so where is the need for violence? I, in this workshop, have devised a new field of science known as victimology, which is derived from criminology, which has been ignored by Yemenis.”The workshop mainly concentrated on discrimination in all its forms, its notions and its consequences on society. Participants agreed that discrimination is culturally inherited with the passage of time, as opposed to the notion of family, tribal and vocational discrimination. This kind of discrimination has engendered violence because of feelings of inferiority that culminate in making the individual seclude himself in order to escape the outside world, and he accuses and marginalizes society without giving any convincing evidence.

In this respect, the Chairman of the Arab Office and the Egyptian training expert in the field of human rights, Yaser Abduljawad said, “I feel proud of this forum in a country like Yemen. I was appointed to train the participants in the forum. I concentrated mainly on the practical aspect. We have discussed the topics and given the opportunity to the attendants to elicit the results.” Then he explained the notion of discrimination, saying that many societies in the world, specifically Arab societies have been accused of discriminating against women, against prisoners, and refugees and that is why we concentrate on the criminal aspects in the workshop. The National Committee for Women took up this topic, and I have come out with ten materials focusing only on discrimination in Yemeni society due social traditions and norms. In this workshop, problems were posed and I faced many hindrances.” Among the participants was the advocate Mohammed Hussein, who said, “I expect to get mechanisms and strategies to find suitable solutions for violence and abuse towards others, such as the lower class (Al-Akhdam) in our society and women.” “The participants were chosen because they are the first people who are exposed to violence. This forum is organized with the aim of training them and activating their minds. As a participant and lawyer, I hope that this forum won’t the first or the last. There should be a continuation of such forums to treat the victims of violence and abuse,” he added.
At the end, certificates of appreciation were distributed among the participants. The forum has had a special effect on the attendees and the participants, and as a female journalist, I feel proud to be the mediator who transfers these activities to the public.
We live in a community in which we adhere to the Islamic religion and to our traditions and norms. We must collaborate for the sake of this ideal society, instead of committing crimes and terrorism and distorting the real picture of our lovely country.