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 Post subject: Yemen and sex
PostPosted: Thu Sep 04, 2008 12:11 pm 
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A new Taliban?

The emergence of a Saudi-style 'morality police' is ringing alarm bells in Yemen, Ian Black reports from Sana'a

* Ian Black, Middle East editor
* guardian.co.uk,
* Wednesday September 3 2008

Image
Sheikh Abdel-Majid al-Zindani is the force behind Yemen's 'virtue committee', a Saudi-style religious police force that is gathering influence in the country. Photograph: Yahya Arhab/EPA

The Egyptian crooner Ehab Tawfiq has bedroom eyes, smouldering good looks and a voice that enchants Arab audiences. Sadly he won't be perfoming any time soon in Yemen, where he has been blocked by a controversial new Saudi-style "religious police" charged with enforcing austere standards of public morality.

Tawfiq sings catchily about love and relationships. But a concert he was due to give in Sana'a was postponed and then cancelled last month after a campaign by the country's newly-formed "virtue committee", which distributed posters and leaflets — and, say some, encouraged death threats and intimidation — condemning the handsome Egyptian for promoting "sedition, immorality and nudity".

For many Yemenis, and for women in particular, this was another alarming sign of the growth of Salafi extremism — an unwelcome import from neighbouring Saudi Arabia where the "mutaween" religious police are part of the scenery.

"These people scare the hell out of me," complained Nadia al-Sakkaf, the editor of the Yemen Times. "Yemeni youth are frustrated and depressed. There's nothing for them to do. And since when did we need to act against pop singers?"

The first signs appeared a few months ago in the Red Sea port of Hodeida, where young men and women began to be accosted by bearded vigilantes demanding proof that couples were related. A hotel disco and bar were closed down and several Arab women dancers deported. Daoud al-Jeni, a self-styled "virtue activist', described his mission as being to curb "obscenity and prostitution". Anti-vice teams, some armed with sticks, have also been operating in Aden, the former British colony in the south.

In mid-July the Authority for Promoting Virtue and Combating Vice — exactly the same name as used in Saudi Arabia for 80 years — was launched in Sana'a and quickly moved to pressure the authorities to raid and close down two Chinese restaurants that were allegedly being used for "immoral" purposes, including selling alcohol.

"This is a step backward for human rights in Yemen," warned Hurriya Mashour, the deputy head of the state-backed Womens National Committee.

Behind the "virtue committee", which supported by 2,000 clerics and tribal leaders, is Sheikh Abdel-Majid al-Zindani, a powerful Salafi figure who once taught Osama bin Laden and is accused by the US and UN of financing terrorism. Zindani is a charismatic preacher who claims to have found a cure for Aids and specialises in Quranic explanations for modern scientific discoveries. His Al-Iman university in Sana'a is seen as a hotbed of religious extremism.

Zindani and like-minded ulema, or scholars, have long demanded government action against "moral corruption", which in their book includes mixed dancing, alcohol, racy TV soap operas, fashion shows and even mannequins in shop windows. They have also opposed calls for a legally enforceable minimum age for marriage in a country where girls as young as 12, especially in villages, are frequently married off to older men.

The same group also condemned a proposal by President Ali Abdullah Salih for a 15% quota for women in parliament.

The government insists that it opposes the virtue committee. "The role of these people is only to guide, not to implement," Judge Hamoud al-Hittar, the minister for religious affairs, told the Guardian. "They won't close down any place or arrest or fine anyone. Their role is only to communicate to the competent authorities."

Still, there are strong suspicions, typical of the labyrinthine world of Yemeni politics, that Salih himself is quietly encouraging the idea — a devious way of appeasing Islamist opinion and splitting the opposition Islah party in the run-up to next year's parliamentary elections.

"The deal is that Zindani gets to push on with this for a while so Salih can look as if he's being sympathetic to his Islamist base," said a western diplomat. "Eventually, the government will have to move to reassert its role, but by then the committee will already have been set up and have carved out at least an unofficial role in policing so-called moral crimes."

Aid organisations working in the poorest country in the Arab world are also worried by the virtue committee, and especially about the setback it represents to the cause of empowering women, who are already battling 70% illiteracy and one of the biggest gender gaps on earth. "This is a country with so many serious problems and it has a terrible image," said one foreign development expert. "They are going to shoot themselves in the foot on this. This is not entirely different from how the Taliban started out and it would be a huge tragedy for the women of Yemen if they get caught in the political crossfire."

Ironically, the virtue committee idea appears to be taking off in Yemen just as the Saudis, angered by some high-profile excesses, try to loosen the stranglehold of their own mutaween, who police the ban on women drivers, on women travelling without a chaperone and whose latest activity is to enforce a prohibition on selling dogs and cats for domestic pets.

Yemen is a highly traditional Muslim country where most men wear tribal robes and carry curved jambiya daggers in their belts. But it has never been comfortable with the brand of dour Salafi/Wahabi fundamentalism promoted by the Saudi religious establishment. "If these vigilantes start approaching couples and asking them for their marriage certificates in Sana'a you will soon see jambiyas flying," warned a middle-class resident of the capital.

Arwa Othman, an author and folklorist who is defiantly bareheaded in a land where most women wear the hijab, is horrified by the virtue campaign and the zealots behind it. "This idea will kill this country," she says. "They've been talking about it for a long time in schools and mosques and in the army. Now they're in alliance with the government. These people appear when there is poverty and hunger and dictatorship. These are the right circumstances for extremists."

Source: Guardian UK.

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 Post subject: Re: Yemen and sex
PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 11:57 am 
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From The Times
October 30, 2008
The children who could be seeking divorce

As a new book lifts the lid on arranged marriages in the Middle East, more and more children there could be seeking divorce

Image
Yemeni child-bride Nujoud Ali Hasan, 10, with her brothers at her parents house in Yemeni capital Sana'a
Sonia Verma

The girl sits in the last row of the tiny courtroom, trembling and holding her mother's hand. When the judge finally calls up her case, she is biting her fingernails as her lawyer speaks.

Three weeks earlier, Reem's father had married her off to her cousin - a tall, gaunt man more than three times her age. She says that her new husband raped her three days after their wedding and beat her almost every day in the remote village where they lived. She tried to escape, twice by suicide, and finally by fleeing to her mother's house in Sana'a, where she has come to court seeking a divorce. Reem is 12.

When the judge, Mohammed Alqadhi, asks why he should dissolve their marriage, she replies with an even voice: "If I have to return to my husband I will kill myself."

Her case, heard earlier this summer in Yemen's capital city, is still before the courts but Reem's plight has emerged as a high-profile and crucial test of this conservative Muslim country's treatment of child brides. In May, Nujood Ali, a 10-year-old girl, became the first child bride to lobby Yemen's courts successfully for a divorce after being forced to marry a man nearly 30 years her senior.

Her case captured headlines around the world. In the wake of her victory, Yemeni judges and lawmakers vowed to stamp out the widespread practice of early marriage. Emboldened by Nujood's victory, a handful of other child brides have since stepped forward, demanding an end to marriages brokered by their families to win dowries or forge tribal alliances. But now the same court that awarded Nujood her freedom is failing to uphold the precedent set by her case. It seems that tribal customs still prevail over Yemen's official laws that set the age of marital consent at 15.

"Some extremists have complained about Nujood's case," says Shada Nasser, the outspoken Yemeni lawyer who represented Nujood and now three other child brides, including Reem, in their quest for divorce. "They think the judges should not interfere with tribal life."

Across the Middle East, marriage is seen as a rite of passage to adulthood, and, for women particularly, is still viewed as the gateway to independence, financial security and respect. But it seems that Middle Eastern women are beginning to find their voice. This week it emerged that a book exposing the matchmaking horrors visited upon one 29-year-old Egyptian pharmacist, Ghada Abdel Aal, by her family has become a bestseller and her blog "Wanna-b-a-bride" a lifeline for some of the 15 million girls who, she says "are pressurised by their society to get married".

For Nujood, life is still poverty-stricken, but nevertheless she is optimistic about the future. I meet her and her family in their filthy two-room flat in the slums on the outskirts of Sana'a. She is proud of the publicity that her case garnered, in part because she hopes it will pave the way for other child brides to seek similar justice. "I want other girls to take courage from me," she says, sitting cross-legged on the floor. Her father, Ali Mohammed Ahdal, arranged her marriage in February last year. The street sweeper was struggling to support his two wives and 16 children, most of whom begged on the streets. Nujood was the only child who attended school at the local mosque. He arranged for her to marry Faez Ali Thamer, a motorcycle taxi driver who promised to protect her in exchange for her hand.

"I did it for her own wellbeing," Ahdal tells me, crouched on a mattress on the dusty floor of the room where his whole family sleeps. Nujood was terrified to leave her parents' house, but she believed them when they told her marriage meant that she would be able to finish school and visit her family whenever she wished.

Her parents claim that they had agreed to the marriage on the condition that Thamer would wait until Nujood passed puberty before he had sex with her. Nujood said she didn't know what sex was until her wedding night, when her husband dragged her on to his mattress. She managed to fend him off that first night, but on the third night he raped her. "He made me sleep with him every night after that. I didn't know what I was supposed to do. I was so ashamed to remove my clothing."

She says his family beat her because she couldn't keep up with her chores of fetching firewood and cooking bread on a heavy iron pan. School was out of the question. "I was begging to return to my family's house. I was so lonely and cried every day," she says.

A week after she married, she convinced her husband to take her to Sana'a to visit her family. Out of his earshot, she told them of the abuse she suffered. Without the cash or clout to take his daughter back, her father said she would simply have to endure it. Later that night, an aunt took her aside and told her that her only hope was to seek a divorce. A few days later, when her parents were away, she took the money they had given her to buy breakfast for her siblings and boarded a bus for the courthouse, on the other side of town.

She waited on a bench outside the judge's office until he emerged from the courtroom. When she told him that she wanted a divorce he was shocked. "I said, "You are married? I don't believe it'," recalls Alqadhi. He sent the police to arrest her father and husband and threw them in jail. The judge took Nujood into protective custody, in his own home. The easiest way for her to end her marriage was to have it annulled and, for that, her husband was entitled to financial compensation. He was demanding a sum of £125 - an absolute fortune for Nujood's family. Nasser agreed to take on Nujood's case free of charge and paid Thamer out of her own pocket.

In the wake of Nujood's case, an influential group of Yemeni lawmakers has lobbied to raise the legal age of marriage from 15 to 18 for both men and women. Nujood has now enrolled in school. She has just finished year 2 and dreams of becoming a lawyer or a journalist. "I will never marry again," she says. Her family has received donations from sympathisers around the world, transforming her from a street beggar into a minor celebrity with her own mobile phone and a possible movie deal.

For Reem, however, the future is more uncertain. Back at the courthouse, it is unclear whether the precedent set by Nujood will hold. Alqadhi granted her a divorce, even though Yemeni law technically protected her husband from prosecution. When Nasser presented the case of 12-year-old Reem, the judge seemed more reticent. "This case is different," he tells me. "She is older and has married into her family. I don't want to just end the marriage, I want to solve the problem." It was here that, earlier in the day, he had tried in vain to mediate a discussion between Reem, her parents and her husband. Her husband stomped out. Reem left in tears. Her mother and father had a shouting match. Her father says he arranged her marriage to protect Reem from the influence of her mother, from whom he is separated, and whom he accuses of prostitution. Her mother argues that he married her to avoid paying child support.

Alqadhi later told Nasser that he would postpone his ruling until Reem turned 15, ironically the legal age of consent for marriage, when she could make a mature decision about divorce. Until then, she has been ordered to live with her maternal grandfather. "I came here because I thought this man would help me, but I am leaving with nothing," says Reem, twisting the sleeves of her black abaya. "I wish I was like Nujood."

Source: Times Online UK.

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 Post subject: Re: Yemen and sex
PostPosted: Fri Mar 26, 2010 1:31 pm 
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Famed for divorce, Yemeni girl set to read memoir
by Christine Kearney
19 March 2010

Image
Nujood Ali during one of her many media interviews

NEW YORK (Reuters) — In a harrowing memoir she has yet to read herself, Nujood Ali tells how at age 9 she was forced to marry a man three times her age, raped and beaten, then made Yemeni history by getting a divorce.

"I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced," was released in English in the United States this month and is due to be published shortly in Arabic, allowing the now 12-year-old schoolgirl to finally read the story that drew international attention. "I do not know what is in it, except what I have been told about. I am still waiting to read it in my own language," she said via e-mail through her Yemeni translator and filmmaker Khadija Al-Salami. "But I guess it is important to have my story come out to the rest of the world."

Publishers have plans to release the book, as told to and written by French journalist Delphine Minoui, in 19 languages after it first appeared in France last year. Two years ago Ali was thrust into the spotlight after her ordeal as a child bride was first reported in the Yemen Times. She traveled to New York as Glamour magazine's woman of the year, becoming an international symbol for women's rights.

The book reveals how when she was around 9, her impoverished father — who had more than a dozen children — agreed for her to marry an older man. She says he took her out of school, drove her with his family to a village, and raped her the first night of their marriage. "No matter how I screamed, no one came to help me. It hurt awfully, and I was all alone to face the pain," she recalls in the memoir. When he eventually allowed her to visit her family in the city of Sanaa, she ran off and hailed a cab to a courthouse. With the help of Yemeni human rights lawyer Shada Nasser, a judge granted her a divorce, making her the Middle Eastern country's first divorced child bride.

But the end of the book is not the end of her story. Last year her school "kicked her out because she never showed up for classes" as she was too busy doing media interviews, says Al-Salami, who now monitors her education. After hearing of her lack of progress, the book's French publisher, Michel Lafon, helped her poor family buy a home. Now Ali is trying to focus on schooling, which she is paying for with royalties from her book.

"My life now in Yemen is calm and I live like a happy middle-class kid, where last year I was having a miserable poor life," Ali said via e-mail.

Her case and that of other divorced girls who followed prompted Yemeni citizens push for a ban on marriage before 18. But a quarter of girls in Yemen are still married by the age of 15, according to UNICEF. And as suggested in the memoir, child brides in Yemen are fueled by a combination of a lack of women's rights, economic hardships and a culture that deplores bringing families shame, making it difficult to speak out. The reaction from Yemeni citizens, if it is ever released there, remains to be seen.

"The book helped Nujood financially, though some Yemenis think that the West is using her story to make money and give bad images about Yemen," said Al-Salami.

(Editing by Michelle Nichols and Xavier Briand)
Source: Reuters.

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 Post subject: Re: Yemen and sex
PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2010 3:56 am 
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A review of Egyptian filmmaker Khaled Youssef's film "Heena Maysara," which includes a lesbian love scene, has sparked calls for violence against a Paris-based Yemeni critic.

Ex-pat filmmaker's review of lesbian-themed Egyptian movie sparks outrage, violent threats
Thursday, April 29, 2010
BY DOUG IRELAND

In the Arabian Peninsula nation of Yemen, the country's only serious cultural magazine has been shut down by authorities because of an article that characterizes homosexuality as "part and parcel of our society" and advocates gay rights.

The magazine, Al Thaqafiya, which is government-funded, became the subject of a wave of verbal fireworks and violent threats and exhortations this month from members of the nation's parliament, religious leaders, and others after it published a film review by Yemeni filmmaker Hamid Aqbi, who now lives in Paris.

Aqbi's review discussed a new Egyptian film, "Heena Maysara" ("Till things get better"), which contains a lesbian love scene.

In his review of the film, Aqbi not only described homosexuality as "part and parcel of our society" but "called on the parliament to extend more rights to gay people and went as far as to suggest that the Yemeni government should consider allowing gay marriages," according to the website MidEast News Source.

As a result, on April 7, after an uproar among lawmakers about Aqbi's article, Yemen's parliament sent a memo to the Ministry of Communications demanding that the government shut down the magazine and investigate those responsible. Al Thaqafiya subsequently ceased publication at the insistence of authorities, and its editorial team became the target of an official investigation.

Aqbi has been the subject of death threats as a result of his article, and he has promised to take legal action against one member of the Yemeni parliament, Muhammad Al-Hizmi, whom Aqbi accuses of inciting people to murder him. Yemeni websites, which are rigorously monitored and controlled by the government, have been filled with denunciations of Aqbi and calls for his execution for "promoting pornography." One forum even urged "our terrorist brothers" to "prepare one of their suicide operatives to wipe this malignant man off the face of the earth."

Yemeni journalist Mohammed Al-Qadhi, who is based in Sana'a, the nation's capital, said, "In Yemen, there is no gay community, because according to Islamic Sharia it"s prohibited. It's a very conservative society and no one will admit that they're gay." According to MidEast News Source, Al-Qadhi "speculates that the editors of Al Thaqafiya apparently overlooked the article and probably did not notice how explosive its content was; otherwise it never would have gone in."

Reviewer Aqbi told the German news agency DPA, "Those who are instigating these lies think they are agents of God on Earth. These are the same people who permit child marriages. They are blocking a law to limit the age of marriage and another law that prevents carrying weapons without legal justification or a license. They're against women's freedom and they are silent when it comes to government corruption." He added, "I believe that it's the right of any person anywhere to choose their way of life and to enjoy personal freedoms. I don"t think this warrants me being labeled a heretic and killing me."

Writing on his excellent blog on the Arab world, Al Bab (al-bab.com), Brian Whitaker, former Middle East correspondent of the UK's Guardian and author of "Unspeakable Love: Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East," noted, "Homosexual acts are illegal in Yemen and in theory can result in execution. On the whole, the authorities are preoccupied with more pressing issues but, with little government control over much of the country, gay people are at risk from other elements taking matters into their own hands."

Elaborating on that point, Whitaker wrote, "In 2008, three young men were killed by militants in Shabwa province on suspicion of being gay. One of them, 22-year-old Said Abdullah Hannan, was shot dead in the street in front of the main market in Jaar."

The film review in which Aqbi made his pro-gay comments discussed a new work by one of Egypt's leading younger directors, Khaled Youssef, a protégé of the late Youssef Chahine, who was considered Egypt's foremost filmmaker. Chahine, known as "the pioneer of social realism" in Egyptian cinema, made several films that addressed homosexuality, most notably "Wadan Bonaparte" ("Adieu, Bonaparte," 1985). Set in the period of the Napoleonic expedition into Egypt, the film explores the complex relationships between East and West through the prism of a homosexual French general falling in love with a local Egyptian man.

Chahine's protégé Youssef's "Heena Maysara," released in Yemen in January, is set in a Cairo shantytown and tackles issues of poverty, crime, and physical and sexual abuse. The film stars two popular Egyptian actresses, Ghada Abdel-Razeq and Sumaya Al-Khashab, who portray a lesbian encounter. In the most controversial scene, Abdel-Razeq, who plays a lesbian, tries to seduce Khashab. The scene shows Abdel-Razeq hitting on Khashab — who plays a prostitute named Nahed — and kissing her.

According to an article on the Dubai-based Al Arabiya television network's website, "Religious scholars in Egypt are outraged by a lesbian scene in the new movie, telling audiences to stay away from the sinful flick and calling for the director and actresses to be prosecuted."

A prominent Egyptian preacher and Islamic Studies professor at Cairo University, Dr. Abdel-Sabour Shahin, accused the movie of spreading homosexuality and promoting debauchery. Claiming the movie is part of "a Zionist and American conspiracy" to destroy the moral fabric of society, he called on authorities to prosecute director Youssef and the two actresses who played the lesbian scene on the big screen.

Youssef, however, is not the only Egyptian film director to recently tackle the issue of homosexuality. A 2006 hit, "The Yacoubian Building" by director Marwan Hamed, based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Alaa Al-Aswany, includes a homosexual affair between a newspaper editor and a soldier. The film has become a staple of Sundance Channel programming here in the US.

Source: Gay City News.

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 Post subject: Re: Yemen and sex
PostPosted: Sat Nov 20, 2010 8:16 pm 
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Cheerleaders blamed for Yemen beach volleyball defeat
17 November 2010

Bikini-clad cheerleaders have been blamed by the Yemen beach volleyball team for their defeat during the Asian Games.

Image
The cheerleaders who are proving too hot for some competitors who claim the dancers make it impossible to concentrate.
Photo: GETTY

Organisers of the games in China have hired four cheerleader squads, each made up of eight girls, to entertain fans during breaks in the volleyball action, according to the Tianfu Morning News. But Yemen beach volleyballer Adeeb Mahfoudh has now accused the squads of being distracting, and partly to blame for their defeat to Indonesia. "They had an effect on how we played," he said. "I think they had something to do with our losing the match.

Besides cheering, the girls also perform routines that include traditional Chinese elements including martial arts and fan dancing.

"These girls are very beautiful. With them here, more people will pay attention to beach volleyball," Mr Mahfoudh added. "If I can, I hope to watch them perform at the next match."

Source: Telegraph UK.

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 Post subject: Re: Yemen and sex
PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2012 7:10 pm 
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Yemen's swap marriages: a recipe for disaster
1 November 2012

Image
A Yemeni groom walks down the street dressed in traditional marriage attire in Sanaa in October 2012.

AFP - The deal is simple: I marry your sister and you marry mine. No dowry necessary. But if one marriage fails, the other must end as well.

Such is Sheghar, or swap marriage, a widely practised tradition in impoverished Yemen. Beyond tying the knot between two people, it links the future of two families in a potentially disastrous arrangement.

In a country where child marriages remain customary, swap marriage is also rife, particularly in rural areas of the Arabian Peninsula nation, despite the often destructive consequences of the practice. Muslim scholars have ruled that Sheghar marriage is not Islamic, but many in Yemen's conservative society believe that it cements family ties, and keeps the inheritance within the family as most swaps take place between relatives.

Ahmed Abdullah, 70, described swap marriage as a "marriage of regret" as he painfully narrated the story of his son who could not cope with losing his wife over his sister's divorce. "I agreed with my dearest friend to arrange a marriage for our two sons in this way ... After two years, my daughter and her husband could not get on well," which led to her returning to her parents' home, he said. "The moment she returned, my son's wife left his house. The problem is that he really loved her," he said, adding that eventually both couples were forced to divorce. My son lost his mind because of the pressure we put on him to divorce his wife," he said.

One of the reasons leading to the spread of swap marriages in rural areas is the lack of education for women who remain too weak to reject the will of their male-dominated families. Most women in Yemen do not have the option of disobeying the family because that would amount to challenging the whole clan, which is far more concerned about preserving its honour than it is about the life of a woman on the verge of losing her family.

Ali and Nasser married each other's sisters. After several years, Ali divorced his wife. But when his sister refused to leave Nasser, her family and cousins stormed her house and forced Nasser to divorce her. The dispute led to armed clashes between the two families which resulted in the death of Nasser's brother-in law. "The revenge is yet to be settled between the two families," said Saeed al-Waeli, a relative of the victim.

Swap marriages are not reserved for the poor and illiterate in Yemen. College graduates may also be forced into them. Thirty-five-year old university graduate Mohammed Saeed said that although he was fully aware of the dangers of swap marriages, he was forced into one by his family so that his older sister could be married. "My parents realised that they could hit two birds with one stone," he said. "I suffered endless problems for seven years, and so did my sister. When I couldn't bear it any longer I divorced my wife. She took my son and daughter with her. I haven't seen them in four years," he said. "My sister also returned to her parents' place along with her three children," he added.

Image
Family and friends celebrate with a Yemeni groom (C), dressed in traditional marriage attire, in the street in Sanaa in October 2012.

Sociologist Amani Maysari argues that the spread of Sheghar marriage is because of "exaggerated dowries." "Increased poverty, as well as the rise in marriage costs, force some families into swap marriages," she said.

Human rights minister Huriya Mashhour agreed that high dowries were a main motive behind swap marriages, pointing out that families see it as a "solution for those who cannot afford the cost of marriage." She underscored the dilemma that women in such marriages face. "The woman loses her right to receive a dowry, and if her counterpart gets divorced, she finds herself in the same situation as her family collapses," she said. But Mashhour also played down the spread of this type of marriage, saying that studies prove that it takes place mainly in rural areas. "The percentage doubles in rural areas because of traditions," she said.

Islamic jurist Mohammed al-Omrani said that Sheghar marriage does not abide by the rules of Islam. "When a wife can be divorced only because the other woman got divorced ... This means this marriage is haram (prohibited)," he said.

Source: France24.

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 Post subject: Re: Yemen and sex
PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 3:40 pm 
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Alaa Jarban: One of Yemen's first openly gay men
13 June 2013

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Alaa Jarban Alaa Jarban's "I'm Queer" post has provoked a backlash

The issue of homosexuality is widely taboo in the Middle East, including Yemen where the penalty for being gay can be severe.

Despite such suppression, one young Yemeni man has declared his homosexuality very publicly in a blog. He spoke to a BBC Arabic reporter about the reaction he received and his fears for his safety. In the early days of Yemen's revolutionary uprising a 21-year-old student preparing to sit his finals at Sana'a university emerged as one of the key figures in the country's youth movement. Alaa Jarban organised and led protests throughout the revolution in 2011, calling for the ousting of then-Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Saleh.

Last week, inspired by the hope the revolution created, Alaa became one of the first people to come out publicly as gay while still living in Yemen. Those following him on social networking sites found out about his sexual orientation through a link to his blog where he announced: "I'm Queer." In his post, Mr Jarban revealed intimate thoughts and reflected on a perplexed and isolated period of adolescence growing up as a gay boy in a conservative society.

News of his statement spread quickly through Yemen's activist community, and has already provoked a strong backlash. In a country where homosexual activity is illegal, many in Yemen's revolutionary circles still do not equate freedom with sexual liberation.

'I spit on you'

Asked why he came out so openly when the repercussions could be so severe, Mr Jarban replied: "It's very difficult to live a life that is not you every single day. "I took part in the revolution to change our reality; it is not a revolution if we don't revolutionise every aspect of our community and ourselves." The rights activist was speaking from Canada where he was attending a conference. Since coming out, he has continued his life with little interruption, trying to ignore the hate mail he now receives.

Since his revelation, Mr Jarban has been attacked by those he previously thought of as friends and revolutionary comrades. One message on his blog read: "You make me sick. I can't believe I shook hands with you one day. Can't believe we were in the same square and revolution together. It's because of faggot people like you that our revolution didn't succeed... people like you deserve to DIE. I spit on you, you dog." Mr Jarban knew his statement would not be received well, and yet he is still sad and hurt at losing many close friends as a consequence of coming out. "But I will never regret doing it," he said.

Alongside the hateful messages, he also found support from a small community of more accepting people. Finding positive support shared on a public platform, regardless of how small, shows a distinct shift in attitudes towards homosexuality among some in Yemen.

"Tolerating homosexuality is associated with modernity," said Brian Whitaker, author of Gay and Lesbian life in the Middle East. But while for some that is a good thing, for others it reinforces the idea that Yemenis need to preserve their traditions in order to fight off this creeping so-called "Western modernity".

The prospect of accepting homosexual people seems distant in a country that does not acknowledge their existence. "I asked friends where is the gay community, and people said there are no gays in Yemen," wrote a girl who was afraid to share her real identity on Alaa's blog, which has become a platform for contributors from the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] community. "What, I don't exist?"

'I feel lost'

"When the protests reached Yemen, I decided to take part in the hope of finding a new side to my country, a side I could finally relate to," said Mr Jarban. But that hope began to wane as he watched the limited impact the revolution had on traditional Yemeni life and attitudes - despite the ousting of a president who had ruled for 32 years.

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Kamal al-Solaylee says his decision to come out as a gay Yemeni encouraged others

Kamal al-Solaylee - author of Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes, a book about the trials he faced coming out as member of the Yemeni diaspora - described Mr Jarban's decision as brave, especially for a man so young. "But he understood the consequences when he made that decision," said the Canadian of Yemeni origin. Acutely aware of those consequences, Mr Solaylee is nearly 50 and lives in Canada.

After his book was published, gay Yemeni men sought him out, eager to share experiences and embrace their sexual identity in an accepting Yemeni community. Mr Solaylee was deluged with emails and letters. "I became the godfather of gay Yemeni men," he joked. He feels protective of Mr Jarban and wants to help him, but there is little he can do if the 23-year-old decides to stay in Yemen. "He can't possibly go back to Yemen," said Mr Solaylee, who is both concerned about the younger man's safety and a possible crackdown on Yemen's LGBT community. For his part, Mr Jarban feels torn by having to make a decision. "I feel lost," he said. "People tell me to stay in Canada where I would be safer."

Yemen's transitional government has much to deal with other than the security of minority communities. The overstretched administration is tackling mounting security threats from al-Qaeda, recurring clashes with Houthi rebels in the north, a moribund economy and is in the midst of a thorny so-called National Dialogue. "Diplomatic pressure might be exerted on the government not to prosecute Alaa if the situation gets complicated," said Brian Whitaker. "But it [the Yemeni government] can do very little to protect Alaa." The Yemeni government did not respond to BBC requests for a comment.

In Canada he is safe, but Mr Jarban knows that sooner or later he will have to face the repercussions of his decision. But that has not deterred him from being vocal about LGBT issues at home. "The situation has to change," he said.

Source: BBC.

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 Post subject: Re: Yemen and sex
PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 6:04 am 
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Yemeni child bride, eight, 'dies on wedding night'
Wednesday, 11 September 2013

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Yemeni women attend a rally in Sana'a in support of proposed legislation banning the marriage of girls under 17. Photograph: Mohamed Huwais/AFP/Getty Images

An eight-year-old Yemeni girl has died of internal bleeding on her wedding night after marrying a man five times her age, a social activist and two local residents said, in a case that has caused an outcry in the media and revived debate about child brides.

Arwa Othman, head of Yemen's House of Folklore and a leading rights campaigner, said the girl, identified only as Rawan, was married to a 40-year-old late last week in the town of Meedi in Hajjah province, north-western Yemen. "On the wedding night and after intercourse, she suffered from bleeding and uterine rupture which caused her death," Othman said. "They took her to a clinic but the medics couldn't save her life." Othman said authorities had not taken any action against the girl's family or her husband.

A security official in the provincial town of Haradh denied any such incident had taken place. He did not want to be identified because he was not authorised to speak to the press. But two Meedi residents contacted by Reuters confirmed the incident and said tribal chiefs had tried to cover up the incident when the news broke, warning a local journalist against covering the story.

Many poor families in Yemen marry off young daughters to save on the costs of bringing up a child and earn extra money from the dowry given to the girl. A UN report released in January revealed the extent of the country's poverty, saying that 10.5 million of Yemen's 24 million people lacked sufficient food supplies, and 13 million had no access to safe water and basic sanitation.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged Yemen in December 2011 to ban marriages of girls under 18, warning it deprived child brides of education and harmed their health. Quoting UN and government data, HRW said nearly 14% of Yemeni girls were married before the age of 15 and 52% before the age of 18. The group said many Yemeni child brides-to-be are kept from school when they reach puberty.

Discussions on the issue were shelved by political turmoil after protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2011 that led to his ouster. Several of the 10 countries with the highest rates of child marriage are in west Africa's Sahel and Sahara belt. The practice made headlines in Nigeria in July when lawmakers attempted to scrap a constitutional clause that states citizenship can be renounced by anyone over 18 or a married woman.

Lubabatu Ammani, a statistics director from Zamfara state, north-west Nigeria, said: "The fact is, a lot of people [here], when they hear the campaigning is by people from a different tradition or religion, they won't agree with it."

Source: Guardian UK.

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 Post subject: Re: Yemen and sex
PostPosted: Thu Dec 05, 2013 4:44 pm 
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Yemen investigating death of 8-year-old child bride
13 September 2013

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File picture shows a Yemeni soldier standing on a hill overlooking the capital Sanaa on January 13, 2010.

AFP - Yemen is investigating the reported death of an 8-year-old girl from injuries suffered on the first night of her marriage to a man in his 40s, the government said Friday.

The government has formed a committee "to verify the reports about the death of the girl, named Rawan, after being married to an older man," spokesman Rajeh Badi told AFP. "The crime is not confirmed yet. The team's job is to verify whether this crime took place or not," he said, adding that police had not reported such an incident. He said that the commission should complete its investigation by Saturday.

But rights activist Ahmed al-Quraishi, chairman of child rights' organisation Siyaj, said activists who went to the northwestern Hajjah province had collected information that practically confirms the case. "We in Siyaj are nearly sure of the girl's death, and that authorities are trying to cover up the issue," he told AFP. He said locals in the town of Meedi told activists that they saw the girl some three weeks ago carrying a mobile phone, and saying that she was to wed to a man in his 40s.

Residents also said that she disappeared shortly afterwards, as did her family, according to Quraishi. Some locals said the girl was married to the man who took her to a hotel, and that she died on the very first night from bleeding caused by sexual intercourse. However, a security official in the area told activists investigating the case that the girl and her father were being held by police, without giving any details, Quraishi said. Activists also discovered that Rawan's father had another daughter aged 10, who is also married.

On Friday, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the reported death was appalling, and urged Yemen to ban child marriage. She called on Sanaa to "abide by its obligations" under UN conventions protecting the rights of the child. She urged the government to "immediately reinstate legislation setting a minimum age for marriage, in line with international norms, to prohibit such abuse of children".

Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday that 14 percent of girls in Yemen are married before the age of 15, and 52 percent are married before 18, according to Yemeni and UN 2006 data.

Source: France24.

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 Post subject: Re: Yemen and sex
PostPosted: Thu Dec 05, 2013 5:14 pm 
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Yemen human rights minister wants child marriage ban
14 September 2013

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Yemen's Human Rights Minister Huriya Mashhoor joins activists on June 2, 2013 at the central prison compound in Sanaa, Yemen.

AFP - Yemen's human rights minister said Saturday she would work to relaunch a bill fixing the minimum marriage age at 17, after the reported death of a young girl on her wedding night.

Eight-year-old Rawan was said to have died last week from internal haemorrhaging after sexual intercourse on her wedding night, after having been married to a man in his 40s in the northeastern province of Hajja.

"I wrote to the president of the chamber of deputies to re-file on the parliamentary agenda the bill limiting the age of marriage to 17 years, which has been suspended since 2009," Huriya Mashhoor told AFP. Mashhoor spoke a day after the government formed a committee to investigate the reports of the girl's death. "We do not have enough evidence at the moment" about the incident, Mashhoor said. "But I am worried that there could be an attempt to silence the matter, especially as it took place in an isolated rural area in Hajja province where there have been similar cases before". "If the case was confirmed and covered up, then the crime would be more serious," Mashhoor warned.

Mashhoor has been involved in a campaign against the marriage of child brides in Yemen, ravaged by years of strife and widespread poverty. There is no clear definition in the country of what constitutes a child, making it difficult to battle the practice. Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday that 14 percent of girls in Yemen are married before the age of 15, and 52 percent before 18, citing Yemeni and 2006 data from the United Nations.

Source: France24.

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 Post subject: Re: Yemen and sex
PostPosted: Sun May 28, 2017 5:48 am 
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Girls are increasingly being married off in war-torn Yemen
By AHMED AL-HAJ and MAGGIE MICHAEL
27 May 2017

IBB, Yemen (AP) -- Nasrine's husband was once a happy, optimistic man. He made good money from a restaurant and butcher shop he owned. "With his hands, he could turn dust into gold," Nasrine says.

Then Yemen's civil war escalated, and as the country collapsed, so did he. He lost his businesses, the family became destitute, he began abusing Nasrine, and they divorced, she says. Soon after, she says, she learned to her horror that her ex-husband had agreed to marry off their 10-year-old daughter to a man in his 60s for 1 million riyals, or about $4,000. Nasrine managed to block the wedding and went into hiding with her daughter.

Her case illustrates what human rights activists say is a dire situation for girls in Yemen: Child marriages are mounting dramatically in the Arab world's poorest country, fueled by a war that has thrown society into turmoil.

As the fighting grinds on in its third year, millions of families are unable to make ends meet, and more than 3 million people have been driven from their homes, ending up in camps. For families desperate for cash, unable to support their children or afraid they cannot protect their daughter's "virtue," marrying off a girl becomes the solution.

UNICEF said in March that early marriage in Yemen has become "alarmingly widespread." In a survey conducted in September in six provinces, 72 percent of female respondents said they got married before 18 - compared with around 50 percent in surveys before the war - and about 44 percent said they were wedded before they turned 15, the organization said. "Parents marry off their daughters to be relieved of the cost of their care or because they believe a husband's family can offer better protection," UNICEF said. "Families also seek dowry payments to cope with conflict-related hardship."

Local organizations working to end child marriage point to what they consider numerous egregious cases. In one case, a father ran out of cash while buying qat - leaves habitually chewed as a stimulant in Yemen - so he gave his daughter to the dealer in marriage. Another man married off his daughter three times in two years for repeated dowries, all before she turned 18. In another case, a child bride who had been handed over by her father in exchange for a taxi bled to death after being forced to have sex days after her wedding.

There is no minimum age for marriage in Yemen. In the 1990s, a law setting the age at 15 was repealed by Parliament under pressure from Muslim conservatives, who argue that Islamic Shariah law does not prohibit child marriage and that attempts to curb the practice are a Western plot. While the Ministry of Justice has issued a directive against marriages of girls under 18, it is often disregarded by judges.

Sexual intercourse before the girl reaches puberty is banned, but the law is nearly impossible to enforce. Human rights groups have documented cases of prepubescent girls bleeding to death from being raped by husbands.

At a shelter in the city of Ibb, Nasrine told the Associated Press about her fight to rescue her daughter. She spoke on condition that her last name not be used to protect the girl's identity. Before the war upended her family, her husband would bring in the equivalent of $20 a day, a decent wage in Yemen, and during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, when everyone hires butchers to slaughter sheep and other livestock, he would make as much as $4,000.

After losing his businesses and scrounging for work with little success, "he lost the appetite to do anything, work, eat or live," Nasrine said. She added: "He used to beat us up and became very pessimistic, unlike the man I used to know, who used to be optimistic."

Soon after the couple's divorce, she said, she learned that he had signed a marriage contract for their daughter and the wedding was set to take place in a month. A top tribal leader, Mohammed Shabana, intervened, and the father agreed under pressure to return half the money and to sign, along with the husband-to-be, a pledge not to marry off the girl until she turns 18. Shabana said the father had entered into the contract for the money and to take revenge against his former wife. "We stopped it," he said.

In trying to block the wedding, Nasrine said she sought help from the judge who presided over the marriage contract, but he refused. "Go learn the law and come talk to me later," she quoted the judge as saying. "Even if the girl is 2 months old, the father agreed. It's done."

The judge, Abdu al-Wahed Nagi Mohsen, denied the mother's accusations and said he has never been part of any underage marriages. He said he asks for identification and proof of age in keeping with the Ministry of Justice's instructions.

Nasrine is now in hiding in a shelter run by the Yemen Women Union, a women's rights organization, and said she is afraid her ex-husband and the groom-to-be will retake the girl. She said the situation breaks her heart: "I want my daughter to go out and play with the rest of the kids. For a year now, she is trapped here."

Hayat al-Kaynaee, the representative of the U.N. Population Fund in Ibb, confirmed Nasrine's story. The father and the would-be husband could not be reached for comment.

Because of the fighting between government forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition on one side and Houthi rebels supported by forces loyal to the country's former president on the other, more than 400,000 girls under 18 have lost their homes, and many of them are living in refugee camps. Hundreds of thousands of girls have lost access to schooling, and when girls are not in school, many families start to think about marrying them off.

Child marriage is growing dramatically in the camps, said Najlaa Mohammed, with the Yemen Women Union. Sometimes, she said, the father fears his daughter will be raped and seeks a husband in hopes of protecting her. Other times, it is purely for the money, she said.

Once common in rural areas, child marriage is also sweeping into cities because of the conflict, said Nabil Fadel, head of the National Organization to Combat Human Trafficking. "Imagine for the past six months, there were no salaries, soaring unemployment and poverty," he said. For men who stand to benefit financially by marrying off their daughters early, "it's hard to resist."

International organizations warn that child brides are in danger of domestic violence. Hanadi, a divorced 17-year-old, told the AP that she was married off at 13 because of her family's need for money and the notion that marriage is a woman's destiny. She said she was abused by her in-laws, with whom she lived in rural Sanaa.

She was prevented from going to school, banned from talking to her family, forced to do household chores and treated like a "slave," she said. She said she fled and sought a divorce after a beating by her in-laws caused her to suffer an abortion. "Even laughing, I was not allowed to laugh," she said. "They took control over the simplest things in my life."

Source: |AP

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