Women are Victims of Preferences Imposed by Customs and Traditions
Fayez Al Dhubaibi

 ‘’I did not imagine that having daughters would turn my marriage into hell and my husband would leave me, and marry another woman in order to have a son for him, bearing his name and making him proud among his people, even though that matter is in the hands of Allah alone and I have no power over it.’’, says Yasmine.

Although Islam forbids the infanticide of girls, but rather honors and exalts them, the process of discrimination and intolerance in favor of males still exists in many of the dealings of our society. Starting with the preference of having sons over daughters, passing through the discrimination of sons over females in care, attention, education, health and other opportunities, ending with the deprivation of girls from inheritance and circumventing them in favor of sons.

Yemen ranked 155 for the year 2021 in the Global Gender Gap Report, because women suffer from inequality in a society characterized by masculinity and are defined by strict gender roles.  .
Punishment without Guilt!
Yasmine, 30 years old, pseudonym of a woman from Rima governorate, northern Yemen, tells her story saying: "I married one of my relatives, and our relationship was good, especially after my pregnancy, he took care of me throughout the pregnancy, but soon our relationship deteriorated, and that pampering turned into hatred, when I gave birth to our first daughter, because he wanted me to have a son, to bear his name and making him proud among the tribe.’’ Yasmine and her husband's relationship worsened with every daughter she had: "He kept holding me responsible for having daughters, and he abused me after every birth".

Yasmine continued until she gave birth to the fourth daughter, which led to her husband deciding to marry another woman in order to have a son for him. Yasmine endured the matter and did not oppose her husband in exchange for him to keep her with her daughters, and not divorce her.

As soon as his second wife gave birth to a son, he completely abandoned Yasmine and no longer cared about her and their daughters. He directed all his attention to his son and his second wife.

Yasmine ends her story with a pale voice that hides a lot of pain, she says: "He abandoned me and no longer asks about me and his daughters, the oldest being 10 years old and the youngest 4 years old. I had to work in agriculture and raising livestock to manage the living expenses of me and my four daughters".

The neglect of her father deprived the first daughter of her education, as she was helping her mother with housekeeping and sheep herding, which hurts Yasmin who always blames herself for this, she says.

An Oxfam report confirms that "56% of wives in Yemen are subjected to physical violence by their husbands, not to mention psychological and verbal violence, as well as sexual violence practiced, which is considered another type of psychological violence".

Male Domination
The male culture dominates the mentality of many Yemenis. Many families prefer to have boys and as a result they practice discrimination between their children, giving priority to males over females at the level of treatment and even inheritance.

The father believes that the boy is the real investment for the future, the first guardian of his business and achievements, while the mother believes that he is the bond and the breadwinner of the family in the event of the absence or loss of the father. On the contrary, the daughter is destined to marry and join her husband's family.

The researcher and activist in the field of women Sally Murshed believes that Yemeni women have contributed greatly to establish those gender roles and consolidating the culture of male preference in society through raising children on that culture and practices, so that girls grow up submissive to it and believing in it.

She accuses some of those who adopt religious discourse of attacking women and describing them as inferior and with no eligibility, which helped to strengthen the dominance of men in society and depriving women of their most basic rights in addition to the inefficient laws and legislation on women's rights in Yemen.

Yemeni laws, including the Personal Status Code and the Criminal and Penal Code, have established discriminatory practices against women, incorporating provisions that facilitate domestic violence and abuse and enshrine men's jurisdiction over women. A case that prompted Human Rights Watch to warn that Yemen continues to subject women to severe discrimination in law and practice.  .

Social and Economic Implications
 The 2020 UNFPA report states that "the preference for sons over daughters causes significant harm to females, including malnutrition, exclusion or abandonment of women giving birth to daughters, in addition to inadequate education, forced or compulsory abortions of pregnant women, shorter periods of breastfeeding, fewer vaccinations, and mistreatment or abuse of pregnant women with female fetuses".

  The Global Gender Gap Report 2021 found that "the literacy rate in Yemen among Yemeni women reached (35%) compared (73.2%) among men, and the percentage of enrollment in primary education for females reached (78.7%), compared to (89.4%) for males, while the percentage of female enrollment in secondary education reached (40.2%) compared to (54.7%) for males, while the percentage of females enrolled in higher education (6.2%) compared to (14.0%) for males". These figures reveal gender discrimination in education.

According to the report, "the percentage of women's participation in the workforce for 2021 was 6.3% compared to 72.2% for men, and the percentage of women's participation in leadership positions was 4.1% compared to 95.9% for men.’’

The social worker Ahmed Al-Sufi warns of the preference of sons over daughters because of its negative repercussions on girls in the future and its effects on their contribution to development, stressing that these repercussions are not related to family boundaries only, but extend to other things, most notably the labor market as well as responsibilities and leadership roles.

Ahmed Al-Sufi adds: ‘’The son receives more discriminatory treatment and upbringing in our society, which creates and constitutes competition and hatred; because of the female's sense of weakness and injustice, which affects their actions, either she is submissive and silent because of her sense of injustice and discrimination, so she becomes depressed or self-confident, or she takes a aggressive attitude to the environment in which she lives, showing hostility and resistance to all parents ' requests.’’ 

Suggested Solutions

 This customary situation prevails in many Yemeni societies. There is still the need for the state to carry out its mission to contribute to improving the status of Yemeni women. This is confirmed by Sally Murshed, who believes that the changes begin from the state by legislating fair laws against women discrimination and monitoring their implementation, developing a national plan to support women, solving their social, political, economic and cultural problems, criminalizing all kinds of violence against women, renouncing religious discourse that incites against women, harmonizing international charters and national legislation to secure women's rights and ensure their participation in all aspects of life.

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