By Asma al-Mohattwari
Three years ago, a girl in her thirties came to Hadramout valley. No one knew anything about her past life. She wears men’s clothes and goes with her male friends to have fun in public places. When people look at her at first glance they think she is a teenage boy in his early twenties. Because of her appearance and without any proof or evidence, people started accusing her of working with drug dealers. Heba Hussein Mohammed, with an innocent and baby face, refused to give her name and asked people to call her Sheikh Rashid.
Heba is an orphan girl living in a difficult humanitarian catastrophe. Her life turned into a permanent misery and hell with her first marriage at the age of eight. No one knows details about her marriage or her following divorce. She got married again and had a baby boy, then her second husband divorced her, took her son, and disappeared, leaving her with no family and home.
It was then that she started behaving like a man because she thought she would be safe as a man. On Tuesday, October 14th, Heba was found in al-Hota area in Hadramout lying on the street. Some passers handed her over to the nearby military station. She was wearing men’s uniforms that showed nothing of the features of womanhood. This confused the soldiers, and they beat her, took her possessions, and then handed her over to the security point in Saieon Directorate without any charges. A girl with instability and psychological disorders was jailed in a place full of men because in the Saieon Directorate there are no cells for women.
Security Manager Jafer said that they didn’t allow her to leave until one of her family members came and took her because they didn’t know what could happen to her outside.
The Yemeni Womens Union in Saieon visited her and tried to take her with them but she refused. On October 24th, the Yemeni Women Union in Sana’a interfered and they received her from the Sana’a international airport and put her in a psychiatric hospital in Sana’a.
Sifan al-Hujairi, the Director of the Central Prison, said there are no additional prisons for women so they are sent to the Central Prison. “I really hope to have additional prisons. I ask the Constitution Drafting Committee to include laws for female prisoners, including additional prisons. I hope the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) outputs to be real, not only wishes,” he said.
The Yemeni Women’s Union plays a significant role for these women, such as through Al-Weam House, which houses female prisoners and rehabilitates women who were abandoned by their parents.