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Law’s Weaknesses and Tribal Power Encourages Child Abduction

National Yemen

Law’s Weaknesses and Tribal Power Encourages Child Abduction

Asma al-Mohattwari 
“If you don’t stop crying, we will cut your hands with a knife and throw them to the dog.” With these frightening words, the kidnappers took Hadeel and Ahmed. 
As usual in the morning, eight-year-old Hadeel and six-year-old Ahmed were playing around in the schoolyard before school. Hadeel looked at a woman picking up Ahmed and thought it was strange.
“I ran very quickly and pulled her from the bottom of her garment, but the woman also took me with Ahmed.”
The two children started to cry loudly, but the gang gagged their mouths and threatened them. After one day, they contacted the family, putting the crying children on the phone. Their uncle said that the reason for the kidnapping was that their father had problems with another trader named Wael Maseud about money, and didn’t ultimately give them the money.
The children were released on March 26th. 
The most widespread reasons for child abduction are material blackmail and land conflicts. Lawyer Akram Noaman said that because of judicial and security weaknesses, kidnappers put pressure on parents in these matters outside of courts.
“We deal with kidnappers smoothly because we don’t want the children to be hurt, but unfortunately, concerned authorities deal with them with neglect and become a mediator between the parties. For instance, the case of Bara, who was kidnapped for three months with the Minister of Interior as a mediator.”
The unstable political situation in Yemen causes wider failures, where governmental organizations are unable to deal with issues such as the legal system. As a result, the two children were only released after tribal intervention. Akram says that the kidnapper was sentenced to twenty years, but only because he didn’t have a tribe to depend on.
Expert Ahmed al-Qurashi noted that most cases don’t go to court, and that 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 lack of governmental structures mean that the culture of shame in Yemen means that many kidnapped girls are also simply ignored, or left to suffer throughout their lives. He called on victims’ families to report the crimes and attempt to get intervention through the courts. 
Al-Qurash also emphasized that Saudi Arabia needs to crack down on the smugglings occurring in its territory.
All of this also has an effect on the children themselves. Hadeel’s uncle says that she and her brother have been unable to go to school since it happened.
“They refused to go to school because they thought that they will get kidnapped again, which affects their mental health.”
The Seyaj Organization for the Protection of Childhood has monitored 124 cases of abducted children during 2013, including 19 reported girls. Seyaj emphasized that the unstable security situation, especially since the revolution, must be overcome.

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