Yemeni Activists Blast Houthi Recruitment of All-Female Militias

Wednesday, 24 April, 2019 - 07:00
Sanaa - Asharq Al-Awsat

Yemeni human rights activists decried Houthi militias over their wide-reaching campaign for recruiting women and girls in territories under their control.

In a fashion which is foreign to Yemen’s Arab heritage, drafted women and minor girls are being trained in armed combat and tasked with specialized missions.

The Iran-backed insurgency group has recently celebrated graduating a new all-female brigade, which joined the religiously branded ‘Zaynabiyat’ force.

The new unit is said to be led by Zainab al-Gharbani and holds light arms and electricshock weapons.

As for its mission, commanders announced that the unit will be deployed to actively disband women protesters holding frequent demonstrations in the Houthi-held capital, Sanaa, and other territory run by coup militias.

A well-informed judicial activist, speaking under the condition of anonymity, confirmed the recruitment of women, stressing that official graduation ceremonies are being held within a short timeframe of a few months.

“Women militias, such as Zaynabiyat, were first detected in 2014 in Sanaa,” the activist noted whilst pointing out that their emergence is largely inspired by Iran.

According to data obtained by Asharq Al-Awsat, more than 4,000 women have been trained by foreign military experts from Iran, Lebanon and Iraq in top Houthi-run areas, namely Saada, Sanaa, Dhamar and Amran.

Local reports say several female demonstrations in Sanaa were suppressed by Zaynabiyat personnel, who engaged in physical violence against protesters and arrested hundreds of Yemeni women.

Back in 2017, these militiawomen abducted, according to rights activists, more than 200 demonstrating women within 24 hours.

On par with the Houthi record on recruiting children, the Iran-backed militia is committing another human rights violation by conscribing Yemeni girls into their armed ranks. Yemeni academics considered this practice “a blatant violation of Yemeni women's rights and a serious transgression against all Islamic norms, principles and ethics.”

An academic at the University of Sanaa, who asked not to be named, confirmed that nothing sets Houthis apart from other terrorist groups, such as ISIS and al-Qaeda, especially with regard to recruiting women in the areas under their control.

“There is no difference between what Houthi militias did in Yemen and what terrorist groups did in Syria, Iraq and Libya,” the academic told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“Houthis rely on recruiting women and children, because they are more obedient in carrying out orders and directives, and easier to brainwash into carrying out all the tasks assigned to them,” they explained.

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