Produced by: Yara Chehayed
Part of the Curated Collection: Taboos & Society,
Original Interview Length:
Interview Location: Yemen
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The time when I felt that I was not being myself or needed to change my identity is a personal situation that happened to me when I became a divorced woman. When I became a divorced woman, I found myself compelled to refrain from doing some actions. Not out of my convention, but the reason was the position of my family. My family was supportive of me, but when dealing with the community close to me, such as neighbours, friends, distant relatives, and close relatives, I tried as much as possible to avoid some behaviours so that I would not be subjected to their criticism or bad negative remarks about my life, whether it meant getting dressed, working, leaving the house, or in expressing my opinion about social matters. It was a difficult situation for me. It is true that my family was supportive of me, but I felt the necessity of confrontation, directly or indirectly, and that I had to work on a solution in my life, so it took me a long time to deal with this situation.

Of course, in my experience, as a divorced woman, I felt great psychological pressure and saw that I was wronging myself and that it was not fair for me to live under such pressures. In order to protect myself from the criticism of others and the outside community, I decided to get myself out of this circle somehow. Praise be to God; I consider that I was a lucky woman in that period because I put myself down or chance surrounded me with the life of divorced women. They were not affected by society's view of them, and they helped me. They helped me to go to psychological counselling, psychological support and social counselling, and after a while I felt that I had become stronger. I became strong, especially after they helped me find a job that would provide me with a good income. At that time, I felt financial independence in my life, which made me able to make my own decisions. The first decision I have made so far is to live independently with my children and I am the one who determines the way they are raised in order to ensure that they become independent personalities and I try to protect them from any experience that I went through. Of course, this is something that society may accept, but now I am stronger and I no longer care about their view at all.

In Yemeni society, in my country, I notice many social taboos, which undoubtedly negatively affect peace and prosperity in Yemen. For example, depriving girls of education, depriving women of work, their freedom to wear or take off the hijab except in the presence of a mihrim. A mihrim means that she cannot go out or travel. She cannot go out or travel without a male presence. Also, one of the social taboos is the freedom to choose a partner who is the husband. Also, you cannot obtain a passport without the permission of the guardian, even the identity card. If the guardian does not agree, she cannot obtain an identity card and she can live her life without it. It's ok in society and they don't have a problem with that. These are a some of the taboos that have a negative impact on the flowering process. For social taboo, I chose early marriage in particular. Early marriage deprives the minor girl of her safe childhood. It makes her enter into a sexual relationship with a partner without preparing her, neither psychologically nor physically. In addition, she goes through the experience of pregnancy, miscarriage, complications and difficulties in childbirth and death. This is followed by a huge amount of responsibility in raising children. Early marriage of a minor deprives her of her right to education and obtain a job that guarantees her financial independence and a life of dignity. Now how does this social taboo, which is early marriage, affect the country's prosperity and peace? We notice with every early marriage a society in which it loses the opportunity to have a female teacher, doctor, artist, scientist, researcher, engineer or even a politician. All these opportunities could have positively affected the political, economic or social development in Yemeni society. When we want to address the problem from its roots, we find the main reason is that there is no legal text criminalizing early marriage. This means that in the absence of legislation that guarantees the rights of women and that if there is a defect in the legislation and laws, there will be no state of law nor in a civil state, and whenever the features of a civil state are absent, the opportunity to achieve prosperity and peace is almost impossible.