Love stories in conservative society
Love is an emotion of strong affection and personal attachment. Love is also a virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection. And it is “the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another.” Love may also be described as actions towards others based on compassion, or as actions towards others based on affection.
Love in Yemen, however, is completely different as it is viewed as something disgraceful and shameful, owing to tribal constraints and restrictions.
When asked whether he is in love or not, Rani Talal, 27, replied, “I love any girl.”
Talal says he is desperate to get married. He wants love that would be culminated with marriage. However, his tough financial situation makes it impossible for him to marry.
“I love many girls,” he said. However, he indicated that there was only one girl that owned his heart after he fell in love with her.
“Love is everywhere. Wherever you go, you find love. But love seems to be different in Yemen, where there are entrenched customs and traditions that make people view love as something disgraceful, and impermissible,” he said.
“Recently, there was a change in the state’s media as they began showing female and male youth talking baldly about falling in love and portraying it as something good. But the percentage who believe in love is still small, whereas the majority believes in marriage more than love,” Talal said.
Abdul-Aziz Al-Samei, 23, married a few months ago. He used to love his fiancé, but they did not continue their engagement and broke up. He stressed that real love comes after marriage.
“At the beginning love seems weird and outcast. People look at it with contempt and fear, especially if they have heard love stories that led to committing suicide,” Al-Samei said.
Feelings as predation
Omar Al-Omisi, 25, says “For many people, feeling has become predation and love has turned into a commodity that you can buy from the nearest grocery store. You take what you want of this commodity and then throw out the leftovers.”
“This perception of love is especially true for university students. This is attributed to the tribal traditions and constraints that have restricted the girl’s choice. Some girls got tired of the social restrictions, therefore, they tended to open up in a crazy way at university campuses away from their families’ eyes,” Al-Omisi said.
Ali Al-War, 23, a university student, says “The sharp increase of love stories that ended in suicide goes back a great extent to the parents’ lack of understanding of the importance of giving their children freedom to choose their life partners.
Love is being significantly debated nowadays due to satellite TV channels airing romantic Turkish series that Arab channels recently began broadcasting with Arabic translation.
Love that leads to suicide
There are many strange love stories that have spread lately in Yemeni society. Loving so much might be a cause of suicide or even conversion of one’s religion.
In January of this year, two lovers from the northern Hajja governorate committed suicide after their families refused to marry them due to an old dispute.
Because of the long feud between their rival families, the lovers escaped to another area and committed suicide together by drinking poison. They died at the same time, according to official security sources.
Several Yemeni youth in other governorates are reported to have committed suicide because of love. Others were subjected to torture and censure by their families.
There are many painful stories in rural areas of Yemen where girls are being forced to marry someone whom they don’t love or who is older than them by many years
In addition, sometimes money represents an obstacle in preventing a man from getting married to a woman he loves.
Recently, stories of Muslim Yemeni men falling in love with Jewish Yemeni women have grown more and more common. Some of these stories ended in marriage. However, some others sparked tensions. Some Jewish families asked the US embassy in Sana’a to disengage their daughters from their spouses after the daughters converted to Islam.
Mohammed, 25, who refused to give his last name, loved his colleague, 23. He loved her so much that he decided to marry her regardless of their differences. He loved her for one year before he found out that she had been married before and she was divorced.
He was extremely shocked when he found out that his lover was divorced, therefore, he decided to engage a girl from his countryside and stop loving his colleague.
Mohammed told the Yemen Times that girls from rural ares are better than civilized girls.
Khaled, 28, fell in love with his 23 year old colleague. He proposed for her hand, but unfortunately she refused. He tried hard to mediate via some friends and social figures in order to convince her to accept him, but all in vain.
He even proposed that she accept his engagement and if she finds him inappropriate or not her type, then she could break up with him. Yet she still refused.
In spite of her outright refusal of his request, he is still determined to marry her because she is the first love of his life.