Yemen, June 3, 2019: The Women's Solidarity Network is following with great concern the abductions and arbitrary arrests that women and girls are subjected to in the Houthi-controlled areas are, as a new weapon to silence dissenting voices in their areas.

Houthi sources announced the arrest of 28 prostitution networks accused of committing the crimes of human trafficking, alcohol and drug abuse, and their association with countries of aggression, as described by them. The Houthi group, through their media, accused organizations working in the field of AIDS control of their support in spreading immorality, as they said. While the Yemeni law punishes the perpetrators of immoral crimes through legal procedures and refers them to justice through fair trials, these conditions are missing in the areas controlled by the Houthi group. Houthis are mixing cards to blackmail opposite voices by using moral charges against arbitrarily detained women to create a stigma that extends to their opponents and oppresses them politically.

Since last December, the Houthi group's campaigns have increased to target women who oppose or belong to opposition families and women working in civil society organizations in the areas of peace and combating violence against women, arresting them and fabricating charges against them, including accusations of belonging to or managing these networks, in order to blackmail them, their families and silence them by targeting their daughters' reputation, which represents social suicide in Yemen. This campaign has affected women representing opposition political parties such as the General People's Congress and the daughters of businessmen, even women from Hashemite families have not been spared from this.

According to human rights sources, 100 women, including minors, were arrested in Sana'a and 70 in Amran, whose ages range between 16-47 years. They are held in overcrowded prisons and subjected to torture, some of which reaches sexual abuse. Women were forced to give false confessions under torcher to be used against them.  Families also have been prevented from visiting their daughters in Amran prison, and human rights sources have documented the suicide of four women detained in Sana'a.

The families of women and girls were blackmailed and threatened to publish false confession videos of their daughters. Also, women who were released after paying large ransoms by their families were forced to sign commitments not to engage in any political or human rights activists, including in the field of peace or combating violence against women, and they are also forced not to leave Sana'a and live under house arrest. Lawyers who are trying to defend the cases of detained women have been threatened or arrested.

The Houthi group has begun referring the cases of the detained women to court. As the network verified the existence of a file to prosecute 19 detained women on charges of prostitution and indecent acts and their association with embassies belonging to the countries of aggression as described.

What the Houthi group is doing in Sana'a and Amran, in fabricating charges of prostitution for women arbitrarily detained, is considered, according to the provisions of Yemeni law, defamation crimes that require punishment of all those who arrest and investigate and publish the charges related to exposure against women and girls who are arbitrarily detained.

The network also regrets the increase in cases of arbitrary arrests of women by the Houthi group, especially after the Stockholm Agreement, which would have contributed to the release of detainees as a step towards building confidence, and which, unfortunately, we have not seen any positive impact on the detainees' file so far.

Accordingly, the Women’s Solidarity Network demands the following:

  • The Houthi group should immediately stop the arbitrary arrests of women and fabricate charges against them, immediately release all arbitrarily detained and forcibly disappeared women, and respect their right to move freely without restricting their movement after release.
  • The International Committee of Experts should document all violations against women and girls who are arbitrarily detained, and this will be reflected in their report, which will be issued next September.
  •  The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Red Cross should visit prisons and places designated for arbitrary detention of women, document the condition of female prisoners, and facilitate their release, in addition to providing them with the necessary assistance, including legal assistance, by providing lawyers and protecting them so that they can fulfill their mission to defend the rights of women and girls who are arbitrarily detained.
  • The UN envoy, Professor Martin Griffiths, should make the issue of arbitrary detention at the top of his list of priorities and give it great attention, and involve the representatives of civil society such as women human rights defenders, the National Committee for Investigation of Human Rights Allegations and the Association of Abducted Mothers in peace processes related to detainees /at.