By Asma Al-Mohattwari
Residents of Al-Tahita Directorate in Hodeida governorate woke up to the news of a terrible crime. Three days after his disappearance, villagers found the body of Abdualmajeed in a well.
Abdualmajeed, 14, was a very smart and well-loved child. He usually spent the night out dining with his friends before returning home. On the night of the crime, however, something different happened. He was late and his mother started to be worry about her son.
The father went to the house of his son’s friend, expecting to find him, saying to himself “I will punish him so he will not do it again.” When the father inquired about his son, their reply was unexpected, “we had dinner with each other [and] then he left.”
The family and the villagers went out searching for Abdualmajeed, and concern grew as they failed to find any traces of the boy.
Three days passed without news. On the third day, the villagers smelled something foul coming from one of the wells that was no longer in use. They reported the odor to authorities, who sent police to investigate.
All were shocked when they discovered that Abdualmajeed’s body was the source of the smell. The child was found with a metal wire around his neck. Criminal investigators said that the child was raped before being hanged. Authorities are still investigating the crime and hope to find the offender.
Worryingly, rapes of children in Yemen have increased recently. A security report issued by the Security Media Center of the Ministry of the Interior revealed that there was a sharp rise in the number of rapes during 2012.
The report explained that the security authorities recorded 143 rapes of children in 2012; of those, 113 were reported rapes of male children. Rapes took place across 18 provinces with Hodeida (29), Sana’a (28) and Taiz (16) being the top three governorates where such crimes occurred.
Ahmed was luckier than Abdualmajeed because the attacker left him alive. When Ahmed went to buy vegetables for his mother, the perpetrator asked Ahmed to come with him to see something nice. Ahmed was taken into a building and raped.
He went home in tears, he was so afraid. He refused to tell his mother until repeated prodding from the mother. She reported the crime to the police.
The high rate of rape is due to several reasons, Ahmed Al-Qurshi, Manager of the Seyaj Organization for Children’s Protection, said. Low community awareness and a weak judicial system contribute to the problem.
Another reason according to Al-Qurshi is the lack of DNA testing that could be used to identify the criminals, as well as national legislation that still fails to emphasis child issues.
Additionally, families of victims keep silent because rape is considered shameful, even for the victim. Seyaj organization tries to address the issue by listening to families confidentially and publishing their stories anonymously.
Al-Qurshi said that the organization has heard from the families of over 50 child victims of rape, mostly boys, and offers to help them in the judicial process.
“Our role is limited to cases that accompany killings. The information human rights organizations, NGOs and the government have are not accurate, the actual figures are much higher. This is a result of many factors, including unreported crimes arising from a sense of shame,” Al-Qurshi said.