By Tamjid Alkohali
It was 9:30 pm when Yusra, 12 years-old, decided to run away from her home. Yusra walked about 3km looking for the house of her best friend in school, Nada. It was a late, quiet, and dark night, with only the barking of dogs. She spent three hours trying to recognize the house but it was too dark. Finally, she found it around 12:30 PM.
Happily, Yusra knocked the door strongly. The family wondered who would come at this late hour. The father went to see. He opened the door to find a young girl with a smiling face and crying eyes, she was shivering from cold and fear. From the gate of the house, the father started asking Yusra about her name and what happened to her.
“My dad beat me cruelly. Many times, he burned my hands. Today he swore he would kill me because I’m a girl and he hates girls. I came to help me because Nada told me you are good,” Yusra explained.
Directly, Nada’s father told Yusra to return her home. “It is impossible that your father kill you. He said that because he is just angry, you should go back home.”
Actually, Nada’s father was afraid for her. He knew well that she was in real danger, but that was the first solution to come to his mind at the time.
Yusra refused to return home. She contained begging Nada’s father to stay in their home until the morning only. Eventually, he let her enter the home.
He started discussing with his wife about the good solution for Yusra. There were a lot of concerns that prevented him from letting her stay with them until the morning. “The problem is that she is a girl and this is a big responsibility,” Nada’s father said.
The parents asked Yusra if she knew a house of relatives or a phone number of any person to contact with him. But the poor girl didn’t know any house or have any number.
The parents decided to wake up their neighbor Talal to tell him about the story in order to be a witness about everything in case something bad happened.
“What do you think if we take her to the police station and tell them everything?” That was the first thing Tala thought to do after he heard the story, but Nada’s father refused the idea strongly. “You know police station means long procedures.”
Nada’s father had bad experience with police stations. According to him, the police don’t resolve problems, only make them bigger. “Once, I was imprisoned for a month because I helped a wounded person who was unconscious in the street, and they didn’t know the attacker so they accused me,” Nada’s father said.
Talal was convinced quickly by Nada’s father’s opinion. He also didn’t trust police stations. He knew well there wasn’t a system, accurate procedures, or strong laws to protect people.
After a long discussion, both Nada’s father and Talal questioned Yusra about any person who she or her family knows.
“I know family lives nearby your house. They are from our village. One time, my mother and I went to their home.” From her village means she can stay with them or they can talk with her father because they know each other, but Nada’s father and Talal were considered strangers who couldn’t keep the girl or even try to resolve the problem with her unjust father.
Nada’s father and Talal took Yusra to that family; the wife also went with them because in Yemeni traditions, girl shouldn’t be alone with two men.
They arrived to the house and told the householder who was named Kassim everything. “Actually we don’t know them well, and this is a girl so I can’t let her stay in our house. If she was a boy there wouldn’t be any problem.”
Kassim and his wife refused to save her because there wasn’t strong relationship between Yusra’s father and them. No one wanted to help Yusra’s, fearing accusation.
“In my opinion, we should return her back to her father. Neither the police, nor society can save her. Her father is is the only responsible for her life. He can do whatever he wants. This what everybody will say at the end,” Kassim said.
They continued discussing trying to save themselves from the problem instead of saving Yusra from her problem.
Yusra was hearing everything. She realized that no one could help her. She opened the car door and ran out fast. The wife couldn’t catch her. The men couldn’t follow her. She disappeared among the dark.