The American Center for Justice (ACJ) condemns the leniency shown by the security and judicial authorities towards cases of violations against children in Yemen, foremost of which are cases of abuse, sexual harassment and rape whereas complaints related to these violations are ignored at best. Moreover, some police departments and judicial organs multiply the suffering of victims by committing other violations against victims or their families such as detention and forcing them to waive complaints and retract their claims.
The Center reiterates the issue of the multiple violations that the 17-year-old girl, Amira Ali, was subjected to in the Bait Al-Faqih District in the Houthi- controlled governorate of Al-Hodeidah, which led to her death in the prison of the district’s Security Department, losing the right to a judicial investigation into circumstances of what she was subjected to, and her and her family’s claim that she was raped by a powerful educator in the district.
The American Center for Justice (ACJ) strongly condemns this irresponsible behavior on the part of the security services and judicial authorities, starting with the police department’s detention of the child while she was in labor, rejecting her brother’s request for an ambulance the next morning on the pretext that the security director was not there, and then taking her to a medical center in the district, after considerable delay, where she died an hour after arriving there due to complications from childbirth. They ignored the case, did not conduct a judicial investigation into its circumstances, or examined the allegations of Amira and her family. In this regard, CEO of the center, Abdul-Rahman Barman, is surprised that the judiciary deals with a case of this gravity in this way while small cases such as personal disputes over ordinary matters receive the attention of the judiciary and police departments and litigation procedures take years.
Amira’s family was surprised that their daughter had attempted to commit suicide by throwing herself into a well, but they managed to pull her out while she was still alive only to find out she was in labor. She told them that a powerful educator in the district had forcibly raped her while she was going to bring feed for the cows. She also told them that he had threatened to expel her family and imprison her brothers if she spoke about what he had done to her. The family, accompanied by the residents of the village of Al-Anbariya in the Bait Al-Faqih District, made a report to the District’s Security Department on November 25, 2021 about the crime and demanded that the accused be arrested, investigated, referred to the competent authorities and legal measures should be taken.
However, the police department arrested the child Amira with the accused and put them in the district prison on the same day when she was giving birth without regard to her health conditions and without legal justification as she had not committed any crime other than being a victim of rape.
The Hodeidah Public Prosecution had issued a decision not to file a criminal case temporarily and to release the accused on the pretext of insufficient evidence, without waiting for the medical report to be issued or the investigations be completed.
Despite the difficulty of getting evidence in cases of sexual exploitation of children, the fact that the victim was pregnant is sufficient to file a lawsuit as Forensic provides the possibility of doing a paternity test to the fetus by examining the (DNA) in the case of the child Amira, for example.
Abdul-Rahman Barman, CEO the American Center for Justice, confirms that the violations against the child Amira Ali are a blatant example and a clear indicator of the state of childhood in Yemen where a large number, can be estimated at hundreds of thousands, of them work to help their families earn a living either with their family, as is the case of the child Amira Ali, who said that she was raped while on her way to get some feeds, or with persons and entities who do not respect the rights of the child, or the children who are self-employed such as street vendors or those who provide services in the streets, roads and homes. In all of these cases, these children are vulnerable to exploitation, assault, rape, or even using them to carry out illegal acts, and many of them are professional beggars motivated by their family or people who exploit and force them to do so, not to mention that some of them are pushed to steal, and of course many of them are being recruited to fight for the Houthi militia.
Barman points out that the incident of the little girl Amira reveals a miserable reality in which children of marginalized and lower groups live in Yemeni society do not have security or legal protection, and their families cannot redress them from the violations they are exposed to. In addition, the security services and the judiciary collude with the perpetrators of violations, and they may go further by imposing penalties on the victims and their families.
Barman appeals to the concerned parties in the international community to intervene and pressure to try to do justice to the family of the child Amira by conducting an independent and impartial judicial investigation into the entire case until the moment of her death, so that such an incident does not happen again and child abusers do not escape punishment.