Gendered Security

Gender-based Violence and Women’s Access to State and Non-state Security Provision in al-Dhali’

Ghaidaa Motahar

Shaima Bin Othman

YPC Policy Report   •   April 27, 2020

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Main Findings

  • Security providers in Yemen do not consider the special security needs of women; women often do not have access to formal security providers, and are vulnerable to exploitation and misconduct. YPC research in al-Dhali` shows that security entities, both formal and informal, do not feel responsible for women’s security, which puts women at higher risk for gender-based violence.
  • While police remain an important security actor in urban areas, their position is weakened by the presence of the Security Belt forces. Meanwhile, informal actors, primarily sheikhs, provide security in rural areas. The aqil, an informal security provider that is prevalent in other regions of Yemen, does not have a significant role in security provision in al Dhali’, neither in urban nor rural contexts.
  • Research results indicate that women in al-Dhali’ live in an environment in which they are at high risk for gender-based violence. YPC survey results also reveal that security perceptions are shaped by gender roles.
  • Local attitudes toward gender and sex contribute to a denial of sexual violence within society. This puts more stress on social cohesion as gender-based violence is increasing and there are few mechanisms to address it. From the perspective of the community, addressing the existence of sexual violence could upend customary leadership that communities rely on in the absence of state institutions.
  • Data collected by the YPC in al-Dhali’ reveals that men are more likely to have contact with police than women. There are no family units in police stations to deal with domestic and sexual violence. Police officers interviewed by YPC stated that they receive very few domestic violence cases because such issues most often are resolved within families.
  • Both genders explained that they can access sheikhs and Security Belt forces when it comes to conflict resolution. Women in particular (both urban and rural) find it easier to access informal security providers, like sheikhs, rather than police. Informal actors open their houses to everyone within their community; female members of a sheikh’s family are known and can serve as a point of contact for women with security concerns.