Yemeni Women Enduring a Dual Battle for Country and Rights

Yemeni women are the most suffered community in the Yemen civil war. They are surviving the battle on fields, the fight for laws with authorities and an intensified domestic abuse since the war broke.

Nearly five years to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, irretrievable destruction, unimaginable dent on people’s lifestyle, months of starvation, failing economy, dismantled government, obliterated laws, thousands of deaths and even a greater number of wounded individuals. The condition in Yemen is increasingly becoming a cry for help and, at the same time, a forgotten story.

In this war-torn nation, the conflict and its violent impact have remained known to the world all these years. However, Yemeni women have been witnessing situations that have remained under the veils, similar to what they wear while fighting for justice, law and fundamental rights.

Yemen women’s issues often spring up because the sole-breadwinner men are usually fighting, injured or have lost their lives during the war. From picking up weapons to fight terrorists to being sold for mere funds in child marriages; Yemen’s female population has been living amidst double battles — one for their country, and the other for their health, security and rights.

The violations, bombing and airstrikes by the two sides — the Saudi Arabia-led coalition and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels — have been causing grave implications in the country, where Yemeni women are playing a crucial role alongside the men to secure their nation. Women in Aden have been joining the security forces to arrest and cleanse terrorists from the city. They are trained to operate heavy weapons in the all-female facilities, which came in picture a couple of years ago.

It was reported that nearly 500-800 females joined the special forces and bared themselves to sudden attacks, airstrikes as well as lack of security, in order to fight a number of terrorists roaming in the city with arrest warrants. Besides, a lot of them disguise as women, making it difficult for military men to frisk them at checkpoints.

Taking part in the conflict, the presence of Yemeni women is considered necessary at several critical places — naval ports, airports, prisons, civil administrations and others — where people are required to be checked. Although they are fighting the Yemen crisis, women also face consequences of the prolonged disrupted political system in the country.

The Yemen civil war has left the nation’s female population under worsen state of their basic human rights. A number of women have joined rehabilitation centers after losing their parents, husbands or brothers, while many decided to spend their lives in the rehab to save themselves from extreme domestic violence and escape their abusers.

An increasing number of Yemeni women have been subjected to torture and abuse at home, majorly since the Yemen war broke out in 2015, while the legal system remains completely broken down. Several men often return from war with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and practice violence against the female family members to de-stress, leading to a rise in cases of gender-based abuse.

While most of the families lost their sole-earners, Yemeni women were forced to move out and become the breadwinners themselves in a war-torn country with no security and only a handful of job opportunities and resources. Financial crisis in several households has also exposed young girls to marriages that were mostly monetary deals between their family and the other party.

Before they even hit 18, Yemen girls are deprived of their childhood as well as the right to education, and are forced into marriages. Yemeni women are usually sold off to raise finances, repay debts and combat the food crisis in families.

For years, Yemen has been a battle field for the Saudi-led coalition including the United Arab Emirates, as well as the Houthi rebels, who are backed by Iran. The raging proxy war has killed over 8,000 people, injured more than 49,000 and left nearly 69 per cent of the population in need of humanitarian assistance.

While Houthis received funds, weapons and military training from Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been importing arms purchased from countries like the US, Germany, the UK and France, errantly using them to attack the Houthi rebels and civilians all the same in Yemen.

Human rights groups have raised several calls in the past for ending the prolonged Yemen civil war and the humanitarian crisis leaving children deprived, women under challenges and men in rage. Despite that, Arab world leaders, including Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, UAE’s Mohammed bin Zayed and the Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, have been creating a void in Yemen’s existence.

Where the male leaders of Arab nations have been causing an irreversible instability in Yemen for years, Yemeni women are stepping out of their households, picking up weapons, and standing courageously to protect their basic rights amidst all the violations.

In Yemen, they are the voices less heard, a community witnessing the most intense form of violations and the humans-with-feelings being objectified. Despite that, Yemeni women are fighting for their rights, equally contributing to hold the nation steady on their shoulders and well-surviving the impact of a dual crisis boldly.

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