Produced by: Yara Chehayed
Part of the Curated Collection: Taboos & Society,
Original Interview Length:
Interview Location: Yemen
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In fact, I suffered from two points during my professional, practical and academic life. The first point was within the context of my family and the society I lived in, in which girls were not allowed to complete their education. Sixth grade was the limit. So, it was a big challenge for me to continue my education until high school and university. As for the second challenge, it was at a time when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. For me, this was a great challenge. It was difficult for me to speak and tell those around me that I suffer from a mental illness, which is bipolar disorder, given that society views this disease, especially if it is a woman, as something wrong with her, a point of shortcoming, perhaps a point of shame as well. This disease posed a great challenge for me in front of my family and society. How can I form a family, have a home and children, these two parts were very difficult for me.

For the first issue of education, I defiantly stood in front of my family and told them that if they were to prevent me from continuing my education, I would run away from home. This made them kind of hesitate as they knew that I was stubborn and it was possible for me to really run away from home. This was my way in dealing with the issue of education. I was able, thanks to Allah, to continue my university and master's education as well. I completed a master’s degree in the field of law. I also tried to be a role model for families that prevent their daughters from continuing education. I succeeded in my studies, work and the project that I opened within the framework of the consulting office. Perhaps this made a difference to the others and to the rest of the families. I succeeded even though I am a girl belonging to a simple family who is financially or economically modest, so I loved being an example for others. As for the second topic of bipolar disorder, I was neither ashamed nor afraid to talk about it to the community around me or to tell friends, colleagues and my surroundings, whether at work, university or neighbors. I have a disease called bipolar disorder. The reaction was a lot expected as they told me that I am delusional and they do not think that I am diseased. They told me that I look normal, but I proved to them that this is a normal disease, and there is nothing wrong with it, and I made it easier for them to read and research. I also sent them videos and articles about this disease and that it is normal for anyone to be exposed to this disease or any other disease. I also helped the people around me to accept my illness or accept anyone with a similar illness.

In fact, Yemeni society is one of the most closed societies and adheres to ancient customs and traditions, and for this reason there are many social taboos. If we mention the most prominent and important of them, the rape cases, for example, it is impossible that this issue is opened under any circumstances. Too many honor killings happen. It may even be that in many cases the victim was killed, and the reason we can say is a rumor, meaning that they were not even sure of the authenticity of the news. They directly resort to killing. This is one of the most social taboos that I see is still widespread and still rooted in Yemeni society.