Thursday, October 20, 2011

Akhdam women tell their stories of violence, injustice & poverty in Yemen

The video chronicles the lives and injustices against the Akhdam women in Yemen. The 'Akhdam' , singular Khadem, meaning "servant" in Arabic, are a social group in Yemen, distinct from the majority by their darker skin and African descent. Although they are Arabic-speaking and practicing Muslims, they are regarded as non-Arabs and designated as a low caste group, frequently discriminated against and confined to unskilled and menial labor. In a society already riddled with patriarchy and poverty, the distain and discrimination against the Akhdam renders Akhdam women easy targets of violence and abuse. Akhdam women are subject to hate-based attacks and sexual assaults without any type of legal or social recourse.

This video, produced by Sisters Arab Forum for Human Rights and WITNESS, features the stories and voices of three women, Haddah, Qobol, and Om Ali. Their stories of violence, injustice and forced poverty un... more

The Akhdam, a social group in Yemen are said to be the descendents of a pre-Islamic Ethiopian army that invaded Yemen more than 1500 years ago. They remained in the country as slaves and servants once the occupation ended, and subsequently became the lowest rung in the Imamate's caste system. When the Imam was overthrown during the revolution in 1962 slavery in Yemen was officially abolished, yet the stigma of being a member of the “Akhdam” remains. Set apart by their African features, they face much discrimination, and are mostly confined to menial labor. Most of the Akhdam live in slums, known as 'mahwa', on the outskirts of Yemen's largest cities. 

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