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Zeinabeyyat: The Face of Female Militias in Yemen

Zeinabeyyat: The Face of Female Militias in Yemen

Monday, 15 January, 2018 - 11:45
Child standing next to Houthi women in Sana'a at an armed gathering (Reuters)

The so-called Zeinabeyyat is a women's military group established by Houthis to suppress and abuse women and arrest the families based on Iranian ethics, according to Yemeni officials and observers.

Advisor to Yemeni Minister of Information Faisal al-Awadhi explained that Zeinabeyyat is a group of marginalized women trained by Iran-backed Houthi insurgents.

"All the Iranian militias in the region are pursuing the same approach, by recruiting children and women," he said.

Awadhi points out that Houthi militias "exploit socially marginalized poor families," saying the majority of the Zeinabeyyat have such a background while the leaders are from the Hashemite families and trainers who recruit members.

Although the role of the Zeinabeyyat is to storm into houses, search them, intimidate families and harass any demonstrators against Houthi militias, they have gone beyond that and are now looting homes, especially gold and jewelry. They even steal children's toys.

"They can be described as enemies with guns but without ethical principles. Zeinabeyyat raid houses for the purpose of looting, intimidation and torture ... It is a trained militia that steals mobile phones and confiscates toys while breaking into houses," continued Awadhi.

On Saturday, Zeinabeyyat groups attacked a women's demonstration against Houthi militias in Tahrir square in Sana’a.

According to eyewitnesses, the women's demonstration was suppressed, a number of participants were arrested, and several others were hospitalized after being injured.

The group increased its house raids after the killing of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh by Houthi militias on December 4. Homes of officials of the General People's Congress (GPS), which was headed by Saleh, were raided, women abused, and children intimidated. They also confiscated personal belongings, jewelry and mobile phones.

Yemeni political writer and analyst Hamdan al-Ali states that the Yemeni society does not accept men to enter and search houses. Houthis then established these groups to suppress and arrest women freely.

A female family member of a GPS official recalled the raid on her home in Sana’a.

"The mercenaries, this is the money of the people, and you must return to it," she says.  

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