Friday, September 27, 2013

Yemen: Protect Women’s Rights in Constitution?

     Yemen's National Dialogue was created to bring together all segments of Yemeni society to set the direction for the country's future, including creating the building blocks for a new constitution. The Rights and Freedoms Working Group is responsible for human rights, including women's rights. A committee will be created to draft the new constitution when the National Dialogue concludes its work in September 2013, though its end date may be extended. The constitution will be adopted after passage by a national referendum. Middle East and North Africa women's rights researcher at HRW said “It's no exaggeration to say that the future of Yemen's women and girls is going to depend on the Rights and Freedoms Working Group's efforts on behalf of their rights” and that "This is a historic opportunity for Yemen to end the deeply entrenched discrimination against its women in both law and in practice."
     Yemeni women are said to face severe discrimination in all aspects of their lives, which includes no marriage without permission of male guardians, no equal rights to divorce, inheritance or child custody, and a lack of legal protection that leaves them exposed to domestic and sexual violence. Also, Yemen has high levels of child marriage, with girls as young as eight forced into marriage. Therefore, Yemen's new constitution must include provisions that guarantee these rights.
     Even though I've never been to Yemen or countries nearby, I could understand a little how things are from what I've seen growing up in my culture. While reading the article, it reminded me of my grandmother, who got married at a considerably young age, didn't even get education, and lived her entire life supporting her family despite the time of crisis during the Korean War. She has always considered herself to be lower  than the male family members. Thinking about it, South Korea also had similar practices and didn't protect women's rights in the old days, but now it has almost gone extinct from this modern society. In my opinion it wasn't the law that  shaped the South Korean culture to respect women more, because every citizen do not really know their rights and the affect of the laws, but it was more with the media (news, dramas, and books and etc.) that average citizens are exposed to which improved in education and globalization in understanding women rights. As for Yemen, establishing such law could be the first step to securing women rights. But In my opinion,I believe that the culture's globalization to allow citizens to be more open-minded and more education on women's rights to the average citizens is vital to improving the current situation.

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