First Published: 2012-12-17

 

‘The Scream’ raises Yemen women’s voices in Dubai

 

Documentary filmed Khadija al-Salami depicts Yemeni women’s mass participation in uprising against Saleh.

 

Middle East Online

By Acil Tabbara - DUBAI

Salami her diplomatic post in Paris to film the mass participation by long-marginalised women in the revolt

At the peak of the uprising against now ousted Yemeni strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh, Khadija al-Salami left her diplomatic post in Paris to film the mass participation by long-marginalised women in the revolt.

In her documentary "The Scream," screened at the Dubai International Film Festival, Salami -- who was forced to marry aged just 11 -- focuses on the role women played during the year-long uprising in the impoverished Arab state.

"Traditionally, a woman's voice must not be heard, just as her hair must remain covered," said Salami, who herself does not cover her long dark hair.

"I chose this title for my film because women have shouted out through their uprising and movement that they exist" in Yemen's male-dominated society, she said.

"They screamed out their suffering, announcing that their revolt is not only against the government but also against all of Yemeni society, including their husbands and fathers."

Filming in the vast sit-in camp that sprang up outside the gates of Sanaa University, Salami followed the daily lives of black-clad women who demonstrated alongside men until Saleh finally quit under a power transfer deal signed in November 2011.

"I was amazed to see these women standing up" for their rights in Yemen, she said. "I wanted to be part of the revolt."

In "The Scream," Salami follows Rahma the journalist, Balqis the human rights activist and Huda the poet -- three women who played major roles throughout the uprising.

The film shows Rahma fearlessly contacting senior officials to denounce the use of prohibited weapons by security forces against protesters.

Balqis, meanwhile, breaks the conservative tradition that women do not visit coffee shops and is seen sitting at a cafeteria, boldly discussing gender equality with the men.

And Huda the poet is seen climbing atop the podium at the camp, which became known as Change Square, and making fiery speeches to encourage demonstrators.

The women, who insist on being part of the uprising, refuse to put up their own tents away from those of the men, and they soon begin facing problems in Yemen's ultra-conservative and deeply tribal community.

"Women took to the streets alongside men but they were beaten and harassed by so-called revolutionaries," said Salami. "How can a man be rebelling against a regime while oppressing his (female) partner?"

Her film also shows women being treated with contempt by the companions of a prominent religious figure, as Saleh himself in his speeches criticised the mixing of the sexes among opposition ranks.

As it nears its end, "The Scream" portrays the disappointment of women as they realise that the uprising has failed to improve their status within Yemeni society.

But "now women do not fear anybody. They have a voice and they will continue the struggle to achieve their rights," said Salami. However she concedes that it will be "a long fight."

In Paris Salami also filmed prominent Yemeni activist Tawakkul Karman after she won the Nobel Peace Prize for her influential role during the uprising.

Salami is already working on a new film that tells the stories of girls who have been forced to marry older men, an ancient traditional practice in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country which she condemns as "organised rape."

The 46-year-old Salami was herself forced by her family to marry a 20-year-old man when she was only 11.

"I felt I was abused. I had two choices -- either I end my own life or rebel against society," she said. "I chose the latter and got a divorce, but only after much difficulty."

She believes her salvation came through education. She won a scholarship to continue her schooling in the United States and later became director of the Paris-based Centre for Communication and Culture of Yemen.

In 2006, Salami published, with Charles Hoots, her book "Tears of Sheba. Tales of Survival and Intrigue in Arabia."

Its title, she said, is to "remind people that women had ruled Yemen" during the country's ancient past.

 

Iraq dismisses US call for Iranian-backed militias to 'go home'

Opposition calls on Iraqi Kurd leader to step down

IS ‘executed’ 116 suspected of Syria regime collaboration

Israel arrests 51 Palestinians for ‘terror-related’ crimes

Greening the Camps brings food and hope to refugees

UNICEF says 1,100 children malnourished in Syria’s Ghouta

UN says Yemen children in desperate need of aid

Orthodox Jews block Jerusalem entrance in protest

Six terror suspects arrested in Morocco

EU announces 106 million euros in aid for Sudan

French judges to rule on whether 'Jihad' is acceptable name

Saudi Aramco chief confirms IPO despite doubts

Lack of accountability hinders governing in Morocco, analysts say

Sudan editor convicted after Bashirs accused of graft

Russia’s Lavrov urges Iraq-Kurd dialogue

Kurds to arrest 11 Iraqis in response to similar Baghdad move

Car bomb attack kills 9 in south Yemen military base

Rouhani boasts about Iran’s greatness in region

Iraq unrest highlights long-standing political divisions

Bahrain temporarily frees female activist

Egypt court sentences 11 people to death for 'terrorism'

Israel police arrest 15 over anti Jewish-Arab dating campaign

Tillerson woos Gulf allies to curb Iran influence

Abadi, Sadr meet in Jordan

No clear US strategy in Syria after Raqqa liberation

Tillerson pushes to undercut Iran at landmark Saudi, Iraq meeting

Gulf share values plummet

US-backed forces capture key Syria oil field

More than half of Austrians vote for anti-immigration party

Washington sees potential Hezbollah threat in the US

UN ends Libya talks with no progress made

Cairo killing sparks security concerns among Copts

Iraq PM arrives in Saudi to upgrade ties

35 Egyptian police killed in Islamist ambush

Morocco recalls Algeria envoy over 'hashish money' jibe

Ceremony marks 75 years since WWII Battle of El Alamein

Somalia attack death toll rises to 358

Long road ahead for families of jailed Morocco protesters

How Raqa recapture affects complex Syrian war

Israel hits Syrian artillery after Golan fire

Germany advances Israel submarine deal after corruption holdup

Bashir Gemayel's killer convicted, 35 years later

SDF hails 'historic victory' against IS in Raqa

Hamas delegation visits Iran

Turkish court orders release of teacher on hunger strike