First Published: 2012-12-17

 

The Scream raises Yemen womens voices in Dubai

 

Documentary filmed Khadija al-Salami depicts Yemeni womens 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.

 

Iran, Israel trade blame for surge in hostilities over Syria

HRW warns Egypt fight against IS threatens humanitarian crisis

Iran vows to resume enrichment if US quits nuclear deal

Mass grave discovered under Raqa football pitch

Can Arab satellite TV catch up with social media?

14 Saddam-era officials still jailed in Iraq

Gaza death toll rises to 40 as Palestinian dies of wounds

HRW says African migrants face rape, torture in Yemen

Four British pilgrims killed in Saudi road crash

UAE accuses Qatari jets of ‘chasing’ passenger flight

Israel rubbishes claims Mossad behind Malaysia assassination

Syrian refugees are not going home anytime soon

Resumption of direct flights from Moscow brings hope to Egypt’s tourism sector

Saudi finalises drone regulation after security alarm

Will Lebanon have more women MPs after May 6 poll?

Saudi shoots down ‘toy drone’

UN Security Council meets over Syria in Sweden

Turkish government rejects criticism of election campaign

Condemnation after Gaza teenager killed by Israeli soldiers

Syrian rebels agree to leave new area outside Damascus

Rouhani slams officials' 'vow of silence' in face of protests

Family accuses Israel of killing Palestinian in Malaysia

Natalie Portman says backed out of Israel prize over Netanyahu

Morocco, EU start talks on new fisheries deal

FIFA to return to Morocco to check hotels, stadiums

Turkey in shock after violent Istanbul derby

Iraq pays first war reparations to Kuwait since 2014

Fiery kites adopted as new tactic by Gaza protesters

Romanian president slams plan to move Israel embassy

Western strikes on Syria bring no change whatsoever

Trump criticises OPEC for high oil prices

Syria says rebels south of capital surrender

Market has capacity to absorb higher oil prices: Saudi minister

Putin 'ready' for Trump summit

Saudi Arabia to host first public film screening

HRW criticises Lebanon for evicting Syria refugees

Saudi says intercepted ballistic missile from Yemen

Russia mulls supplying S-300 missile systems to Syria

US has 'concerns' about Turkey holding fair vote under state of emergency

Bashir fires Sudan foreign minister

Washington: Assad still has 'limited' chemical capability

European MPs urge US not to scrap Iran deal

Oil price soars to highest level in years

Two more pro-Kurdish MPs stripped of Turkey seats

Oil theft 'costing Libya over $750 million annually'