Street vendors endure abuse in Sana’a
She didn’t expect that she would live this hard life; but she has been driven to it by the harsh circumstances she faces.
She said she is married with two young daughters and a baby. She has no option but go work out on the street to help provide for her daughters. Her husband is looking for work but he hasn’t found anything yet.
Fatima has a long story behind her efforts selling newspapers at Al-Sabeen roundabout. The start was hard and bitter, yet she said she was able to overcome her ordeal and eke out a living.
“I was afraid on the first day of my work, selling newspapers and tissues on the street. People are not accustomed to seeing a woman as a street vendor.”
She added, “I stood next to other street vendors. I was gripped by fear. I didn’t dare talk to people in their cars. I was unable to convince them to buy newspapers and tissues. It was a bitter experience. But as time passed, I became a smooth-talking street vendor.”
Fatima still remembers her first day on the street. She sold several newspaper copies. The income was acceptable. “I was happy and content to be able to buy food for my kids.”
She works from morning till night at the roundabout. She endures her difficult work; however, her suffering is exacerbated by harassment and teasing by some bystanders and drivers.
“Some drivers harass me and say harsh things. I try my best to avoid them and just think about my work.”
Fatima is not the only woman who resorts to this kind of work. There are a lot of women on the roundabouts in Sana'a.
Many roundabouts in the capital city are the refuge of a large number of homeless children and women. Some try to sell handkerchiefs and water cans while others are beggars.
On the roundabouts, women are seen with tired, pale faces attempting to sell water cans, biscuits and other materials. The scene elicits sympathy for their situation.
By Al-Qiada roundabout in Sana’a, a ten-year old girl washes cars. Hana Al-Shala says she is not an orphan, but her parents are street cleaners. She is on the streets looking for money.
Many of the children on Al-Qiada roundabout hear about harassment and rape. They refuse to get in the cars of others when they sell their materials. They do this in order to avoid abuse by drivers, said Al-Shala.
Mohammed Ismael, a taxi driver, said, “Almost every week I hear about an ordeal a street vendor has gone through. A lot of them are girls who have just reached adolescence. Some drivers try to make them act immorally.”