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10 Facts About Yemeni Women

Here are some facts about what Yemeni women face on a daily basis:

1. Being (legally) only half a person

In Yemeni courts, the testimony of a woman is not considered as seriously as the testimony of a man. Women are recognized as “half a person” in courts of law and, as witnesses, their testimonies are often dismissed completely. The only exception to this is if a case involves a situation in which no men were present, or if a woman’s story is confirmed by a man. Women aren’t even allowed to act as witnesses in cases concerning certain subjects (like adultery), even though they may have in fact witnessed the crime.

2. Staying at Home

In Yemen, most women are forbidden to leave the house without the explicit permission of their husbands. Though they may leave in emergency circumstances, this societal law prevents many women from seeking educational opportunities, jobs and other resources.

3. Illiteracy

Only 35 percent of Yemeni women can read.

4. Income Inequality

For every dollar a man makes in Yemen, a woman makes only thirty cents. Many women are not allowed to work at all, as their husbands have forbidden it.

5. Being Uneducated

Worldwide, Yemen ranks 134 in terms of how many of its women receive an education.

6. Anonymity

In addition to being discouraged from seeking education and employment, many Yemeni women are discouraged from seeking something as simple as an ID card. A woman must obtain written consent from her husband to even apply for a passport.

7. Poor Health

Women suffer from unequal access to healthcare in Yemen. This especially complicates childbirth, leading to extremely poor maternal and child health in Yemen. One in 40 Yemeni women dies bearing a child – that’s six women every day.

8. Child, Early and Forced Marriage

The practice of child marriage is very common in Yemen. Nearly half of Yemeni women are married by age 18, and some girls are married off as young as eight or nine years old. Even Yemeni women that were not married as children must marry a man chosen for her by her father or she must, at the very least, marry a man her father expressively approves of. Women in Yemen have extremely little agency when it comes to matrimony; essentially, they must do as their fathers–and then as their husbands–say.

9. Violence

Lacking legal protection from domestic and sexual violence, Yemeni women are commonly faced with the dangers of these crimes.

10. Submission

Yemeni women are subject to the very whim of the men in their country, who can go so far as to “arbitrarily arrest” them for a handful of non-criminal acts. It’s not just cops who can do this – it’s any number of powerful men, including ministers and politicians. Female representation in politics is unusual in Yemen. All in all, Yemen is a man’s country.

– Elise L. Riley

Sources: Washington Post, The Borgen Project, Human Rights Watch, World Bank, The Guardian
Photo: Steve McCurry