Anti-Street Harassment Week
A seminar and debate concerning the psychological effects of harassment on victims - as well as a symposium headed by lawyer Ahmed al-Wadi'ee on relevant legal questions – were held. The three-day event was concluded with a forum entitled “The Society We Seek – Democratic Rights and Freedoms” and was led by Najla'a Al-Omari.
The event had a considerable youth turnout, with about 180 such participants. The forums were held at both the Cognitive Cultural Forum and the al-Afif Cultural center.
The main objective of the forums was to raise societal awareness of the dangers of harassment, as well as ways to confront the problem. Workshops and posters were also used to help promote these goals.
‘Aad Shi Akhlaq
“‘Aad Shi Akhlaq” is a national initiative that was started in December 2011 by five young women: Amani Abdul Qader, Shahba'a Al-Kibsi, Luna Al-Wadi'ee, Ghufran Jamal and Arbeil Nasr. The five women started the initiative in response to bitter, personal encounters with on-campus harassment at Sana'a University.
Their main drive was to free streets and neighborhoods from verbal and physical harassment, and to establish in such places a sense of security and respect for women.
Shahba'a Al-Kibsi presented a speech at last week's event in which she said, "I hope that we can join hands in curbing this phenomenon before it spins out of control. Harassment is a crime that is punishable by law in many countries because it has negative psychological effects on the harassed. Therefore, it is everybody's obligation to put a stop to this behavior, something which has become a daily practice in our Yemen, a civilized country with manners and values."
"Harassment and molestation have taken a serious turn for the worse," said Amani Abdul Qader.
"Its practice is no longer limited to young men, but has also crossed over to young women; meanwhile, there's no specific law to deter this trend. It is our role, as enlightened and educated youth, to make a change in this, a period of political change. I hope that a shift in attitude will be the initial change, one that we can work on, so that coming generations will have a better atmosphere than our current one."
The forum and the initiative aim to spread the idea that harassment is neither justifiable nor excusable. They also aim to attract and recruit as many youths as possible for the campaign, while also providing support for youths affected by harassment.
Kefaia and International Anti-Street Harassment Week
Kefaia ('Enough') is another initiative working towards the same purpose. It joined the Development House media organization in launching an e-campaign that utilized articles and videos on Facebook and Twitter to call for volunteer work.
The Development House is the first media organization in Yemen to specialize in online social networking. In a speech, a senior consultant for the Development House said the campaign had been planned and implemented online and that it had been received spectacularly well by young men and women who had broken the silence and committed themselves to curtailing harassment in Yemeni society.
Ghaida'a Al-Absi, campaign manager of the Kefaia initiative said “our initiative is concerned about the women’s issues, and street harassment is one of the most important women’s issues that we take care of. The problem of harassment in the streets is a global problem and exists in every country. The international harassment week includs more than 70 organizations and the campaign is worldwide, with Yemen a part of it,”
“We all demand with one voice : street safety and an enforced law that punishes those who practice harassment” .
Anti-Street Harassment Week lasted from March 18-24, and the list of involved countries included Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, India and Great Britain.