Local News

Gangs Use Taxis to Kidnap Women and Ministry Stays Silent

National Yemen

Asma al-Mohattwari

It was a crowded street with passers walking along the sidewalks and cars noise filling the street. Suddenly everything stopped when three gunmen in a taxi got out of the car and pulled one girl in front of everyone and pushed her to the car. The girl disappeared, but her shoe fell while resisting them. Everyone in the street stood still because in shock, except some who decided to catch the kidnappers, but they quickly gave up after kidnappers raised their weapons in their faces.

Recently, incidents of abduction of women have increased in Sana’a with criminal gangs using taxis because of the security chaos. A statistic said that in the first half of this year, 101 cases of abduction occurred, including 32 children and three girls in Yemen. In 2013, the Head of the Combatting Human Trafficking Yemeni Organization, Nabil Fadhl, said that an Investigation recorded the disappearance of 128 girls from Sana’a.

Journalist Dahan Saleh said that these gangs prefer to be present in front of wedding halls in late hours of the night and on commercial streets, using taxis with hidden plates. They rely on frightening people with weapons, taking advantage of the inability of the state to secure them.

The Interior Ministry has warned little girls to not wear gold jewelry when leaving their homes as well as children from wearing valuables for their own safety.

The reason for the increase in crime is not only security problems, but also that most families avoid complaining to the police because of the culture of shame. Expert Ahmed al-Qurshi noted that most cases don’t go to court, and many international organizations are wasting their time if they don’t deal with the structural problems that are making this happen. He also said that the culture of shame in Yemen means that many kidnapped girls are also simply ignored or left to suffer. He called on victims’ families to report the crimes and attempt to force intervention through the courts.

Families have started to fear for their daughters because of the phenomenon of flirting in the street, which has also increased and makes girl afraid of abduction.

Zinab Ahmed said that once when she was walking to her house, a man who had been following her from behind started to bother her. Zinab’s father saw what was happening and from then on hasn’t allowed her to go anywhere alone.

“Before, traditions kept us at home, and now those stupid men in the streets prevent us from going out. So what exactly is our fault, and what should we do?” asked Zinab sadly.