How difficult it can be when a woman receives the harsh reality from both sides, her husband and the society. When the society refused her since she married a foreigner and what made the matter worse was that this man did not respect her, nor do his duty or give her, her natural born rights. In this case women are forced to make the decision of having a divorce with the outcome leading to the children being the victims, having the issue of their nationality.
Yemeni women who marry foreigners suffer a great deal and have many difficulties with their children that make their lives a trip of trouble, one for example is, Bahria Shamshir. Bahria married a Palestinian man and lived in Jordan and had two sons. After some years of their marriage her husband began to ignore her struggle living alone to provide for her sons a fulfilling life. She was an educated woman and had a job so she decided to be head back to Yemen with her children. All of her concerns went towards her children and how to provide them with whatever they needed. Her real struggle began when she went to apply for a passport for her son and then traveling with it to purchase medication. Unfortunately, they refused to give him a Yemeni passport.
“I began to think why Yemeni men can give their children a Yemeni nationality easily while women were held back and forced to deal with her as a foreigner,” she said. So she started to demand her rights to give her nationality to her children, being the first woman to have raised this issue.
While she was struggling and searching she found before the Yemeni unity that southern Yemen had signed CEDAW a convention that eliminates all forms of discrimination against women, therefore she has taken this point and started from there.
“When I started looking and talking with the leaders of those who signed the agreement I was surprised that there are women leaders denying it and signing, but women’s movements confirmed that there is an agreement,” she said.
Years passed and her husband knew nothing about her so she decided to get a divorce and in 1998 she got to keep her children with her. After a whole heap of struggle and suffering a first step that the Yemeni government accomplished was signing the agreement stating that “widows and divorced women have the right to grant their nationality to their children” on the International Women’s Day, March 2005. In 2011 they signed a law stating that every Yemeni woman has the right to grant their nationality. Currently, they are discussing the law of giving the women the right to give her nationality to her husband after 5 years of marriage.
Bahria said that she was so happy but through her experience she discovered that Yemeni women are afraid from demanding their rights, “we do not want women to come out of the Yemeni laws, but if women’s rights have neglected step by step women will find these laws disappearing”.
Bahria said that they received a number of issues relating to women that would marry to foreigners in the National Dialogue conference (NDC) which means women are beginning to understand laws and their rights.
Eng. Nabila Abdullah, NDC member, rights and freedoms group, said that as a woman she thinks that it is unfair to women, as long as we call for a modern civil state so we should deal equally with men and women. She also said that they come up with this output in the NDC and all the members agreed.
“Now, our role is to work to save the outputs of the NDC and support what we worked during the nine months we must work to support outputs and exit them from drawers into the light” Nabila said.
Waheab Khadbeksh, a lawyer and NDC member, said that the problem is not just in Yemen, but many Arab countries deny the right of the mother to give her nationality to her children. “It is injustice to a large class of women that the man who is marrying a foreign can have his sons receive citizenship while the women do not.
Khadbeksh states that he hopes the Yemeni legislature changes this text and as it gives the right to the man it should also give this right to women and it must be a constitutional law to provide women with this right since we are no longer in a backwards society.