In the first incident of its kind in Yemen, according to the Yemeni Observatory for Human Rights, a girl, Rania, from Qofl Shammar district in Hajja province, who belongs to a well-known tribal family, has filed a lawsuit against her father for not giving his consent to her marriage.
The would-be groom is Ala’ Al-Haj, a young man completing his doctoral degree in Medicine in the Islamic University, Malaysia and whose family works in butchery. The father’s excuse is that Ala’ is socially unfit to marry his daughter, according to the tribal customs prevalent in most of the regions of Yemen.
Lawyer As’ad Omar said that the Yemeni Observatory for Human Rights has received a call from the girl to legally assist her in this situation. He called on the authorities to protect the girl until the judiciary gives a verdict in this case, pointing out that she has been brutalized and stabbed with the Yemeni dagger, the jambia, by her family, which called for a surgery.
This caused her to flee on the first day of Eid Al-Adha from her father’s home to the home of one of the sheikhs and dignitaries of the region.
Lawyer As’ad Omar said that the Qofl Shammar Court, Hajja province, North-west of Sanaa, decided to adjourn its session pending verification of Rania’s age.
Omar As’ad, who works as an official for the Legal Assistance Unit in the Yemeni Observatory for Human Rights, pointed out that Rania has demanded the court to assign a custodian for her to marry her to Ala’, according to the Yemeni law, after her father’s refusal.
The court is supposed to assign a custodian in case the father or one of the relatives refused to marry her. The custodian could be one of the judges of the court.
Rania’s case has raised a controversy in a tribal region that clings persistently to social traditions and is characterized by discrimination among the people of the same area because of lineage or profession.
Sheikh Yaser Al-Shamri, one of the region’s dignitaries, said that the security forces have launched a campaign for the arrest of the family members of Ala’, Rania’s suitor. The security authorities have detained three people of Ala’s family to force him to give up the idea of marrying her.
As’ad noted that a deputy-governor of Hajja province has interceded to the sheikh with whom the girl has asked for protection in order to return her to her family. However, the sheikh refused to return her, after she threatened to commit suicide if she were returned to her father.
The lawyer discerned tribal pressures against the girl. The fact that she had to resort to a sheikh’s mediation, As’ad continued, represented a flagrant violation of the girl’s rights per the constitution and law, and ignores the power of the judiciary to which the girl has filed a lawsuit and in which she has had several hearings.
The tribe’s lawyer hoped that the pressures will not influence the procedures of the judiciary. This case is a sensitive one in Yemeni society and the impact of similar situations has escalated over recent years.