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AL-MUKALLA: Houthi morality policewomen have kicked dozens of women off the streets of the northern town of Saada, the heart of the movement, for shopping without a male guardian, also known as a mahram, residents and local media said.
The Iran-backed Houthis have banned women from shopping without a mahram, asking women to adhere to Islamic dress codes and only allowing women to shop in limited places in the city.
To enforce the ban, residents told Arab News, dozens of all-female morality police were seen wandering Saada during Ramadan, when the streets are full of shoppers, looking for of offenders.
Al-Masdar Online, a Yemeni news site, reported that the Houthis broadcast the ban through loudspeakers attached to cars driving through the streets, asking women not to date the mahram and naming markets where women could shop for Ramadan and Eid.
Houthi police briefly detained dozens of unaccompanied women, then released them after they signed a written recognizance.
The ban on women walking around without a mahram comes as the Yemeni militia steps up its moralization campaigns in areas under its control.
The Houthis have arrested dozens of women for violating Islamic dress codes, banning singing at weddings, and arresting singers and artists who challenged the ban.
Since early last year, the Houthis have detained Entesar Al-Hammadi, a Yemeni actress and model, after kicking her off a street in Sanaa for allegedly “drug trafficking and…prostitution”.
The latest report by the UN Group of Experts accuses the Houthis of sexually assaulting women, subjecting them to different forms of physical and psychological torture and denying them birth control.
“The Houthis simply want women to be annexed to men and used as baby-making machines to produce fighters,” Nadwa Al-Dawsari, a Yemeni conflict analyst, told Arab News.
Ali Al-Fakih, editor-in-chief of Al-Masdar Online, said the Houthis had turned Saada into a testing site for their strict rules, as they view the city as completely loyal to them. “They see Saada as a pure place for their doctrine and their followers. So they can easily implement any decision,” Al-Fakih said.
Unlike other Yemeni areas under their control, the Houthis have made Saada the most secretive place in Yemen, where even visitors to the city must inform militia at checkpoints of the reasons for their visit and for how long. of their stay.
“People cannot breathe in Saada. I think we will see later the ban on Houthi women traveling without a mahram imposed in other areas,” Al-Fakih said.