By: Fatma Al-Hattami
As the pace of security loose increased, so have complaints of people about the continuous violations against their freedoms by Ansar Al-Shariah gunmen spreading around the city. Interestingly, deterioration of security in the city started taking a new dimension as unveiled women and girls became exposed to more attacks. Reports state that many unveiled women have been attacked with acid substance splashed on their faces while many others were threatened to face the same thing if they do not cover their faces.
Though many reports were filed about girls being attacked by extremists or Ansar Al-Shariah-linked groups, it was difficult to reach and meet with real girls who were attacked. In the same regard, girls who were reported to be threatened refused to talk to media as they are afraid of the consequences.
Aden girls reacted differently to the news as part of them were completely against what was reported and said that they do not believe such news and that they “will not bow to what Ansar Al-Sharia wants.” According to this group, wearing veils is up to the girl herself and that nobody has the right to interfere with her freedom.
Randa, an employee at a business, said she condemns the idea of attacking girls and splashing them with acid substance. “Though I wear veil, I believe that it is a personal freedom that nobody to has the right to interfere with,” she stated. According to her, attacking girls with anything is not acceptable who ever the attacker is. “Ansar Al-Sharia must know that it would be better for them to use other ways to correct the actions of girls rather than distorting their faces,” she concluded.
Another girl named Nasma said that nobody has the right to force her to do things she does not want. She added she will not do what others want as she knows that she is practicing her own freedom. “However, I do not deny that the reports of girls being attacked scare me and I walk in the street feeling afraid and waiting for anybody to attack me at any moment,” she said.
“I finally found myself forced to wear veil though but I was not convince deep inside,” said Hana’a, recalling how she has had to deal with the reported attacks. She was heavily affected by the reports and stayed many days at home while her family pressured her into wearing a veil to protect herself.
Rana, a university student, showed more strength reacting to the reports and said that she can never imagine herself wearing the veil. According to her, she does not care about all the stories of those girls who got attacked and she believes that nothing will happen to her except what Allah wants.
“It is terrifying to see many people being killed in south and how girls there became targets for Ansar Al-Shariah’s operations,” said Ihsan Obaid, Head of Arab institution for Supporting Women’s issues. What worries her most is that the reports seem to just be rumors. “It seems like a campaign of intimidation directed for women as some report that women are being subjected to murders in the streets,” she added. According to her, it is a challenge to get a single evidence of a girl who was attacked and called on all women to disregard such rumors.
Obaid said all rumors aim at terrifying women so that they stay home and have no significant participation in developing the country. “Women in Aden are stronger than all those rumors and men should take care of what is to come in their city and they should defend their women and girls,” she said.
Taking a more holistic view, the security deterioration in Aden implies that there are more than just one group that aims to destroy the security and stability of the governorate. While each has their own reasons and motives they seem to believe that all of Aden should suffer until they reach their goals.