It seems that the name “Zaynabiyat” has become a source of fear for Yemeni women in the areas controlled by the Houthi militia.
According to the Yemini Minister of Human Rights in Muhammad Askar, the organization is responsible for arresting, detaining and accusing women.
Yemeni Government statistics indicate that since the Houthi coup that took place five years ago, more than 320 women have been arrested and detained in Houthi prisons.
Kidnapping and strange Phenomena in Yemeni Society
The Houthi militias arrest the women by kidnapping them on checkpoints, transferring them to secret prisons, the Yemeni minister says.
Treating women in this way contradicts the values of Yemeni society, in which women are respected and have a great position, he added.
Askar pointed out that because of those practices, the Houthis have created strange phenomena that came from outside the Yemeni society..
Additionally, Askar notes that has never witnessed the kidnappings of women, especially as Yemen society is very conservative, referring that the Houthis’ ideology and way of thinking are imported and was not existing before.
A Yemeni human rights organization describing those prisons as brutal torture nests.
Human trafficking and doubled rates
Unlike the publicly said, arresting women is not only related to political issues, Yemeni sources told MENA Research and Study Center, as the high rates of women kidnapping during the past years have also been linked to increased human trafficking, especially in the capital, Sanaa.
Since the beginning of this year, the number of kidnapping incidents has increased six times more than before in Sanaa.
Human Rights organizations revealed that the fate of more than 160 women detained is unknown.
The source linked the kidnapping incidents to the human trafficking, as most of the kidnapped women were arrested without a reason or clear accusations against them.
Most of the kidnapped women have no relation with politics or political activities.
“The woman herself has become the Houthis’ target, and this raises concerns regarding the high rates of women detention and kidnapping, and the reason behind this,” the source says.
The Yemeni coalition for monitoring human rights violations confirms that the Houthi secret prisons currently have more than 300 female detainees, among them 204 kidnapped in the capital, Sanaa, controlled by Houthi militias.
Lack of honor and prostitution allegations are used by Houthis against women. All the detainees were forced to confess that they had practiced prostitution and immoral acts.
Al-Houthi wants to destroy female detainees psychologically, including the released ones, as Houthis understand the meaning of stabbing women in their honor in Yemeni society. Many of the detainees have faced social rejection after their release and some were killed by their families, which is the most horrific practice by the militias: offending the women’s honor.
Samira al-Houri, a former detainee at Houthi prisons says that before her release she was forced to confess in front of the cameras that she had practiced prostitution and that many other detainees had to fulfill similar confessions under pressure.
A report prepared by UN experts on Yemen monitored violations by the Houthi militia, on both humanitarian and military levels.
The report, which was submitted to the Committee at the UN Security Council, and published on May 4, stated that the Houthis use the Zaynabiyat network, headed by the Director of the Criminal Investigation Department in Sanaa, Sultan Zaben.
Zaynabiyat is a kind of intelligence apparatus, which responsibilities include searching women and homes, teaching women the Houthi believes, as well as maintaining security and order in women’s prisons.
Zaynabiyat commits violations like arbitrary arrest and detaining women, looting, sexual assault, beating, and torture, in addition to facilitating rape operations in secret detentions, according to the report.
Violence, Rape, Inhumanity
Talking about Yemeni women’s suffering in Houthi prisons means being raped and sexually abused. This is confirmed by the former detainee poet Bardis Al-Sayaghi, who says that many detainees tried to commit suicide. Some of them, between the age of 13 and 35, were forcibly recorded in sexual videos, to prevent them from talking about the practices at Houthis’ prisons, the poet adds.
In the same context, Al-Sayaghi explains that the Houthi militiamen keep the women in detention until the signs of torture disappear from their bodies, and they confiscate all their documents, threatening them of fabricating prostitution cases for them when they are released.
About the role of the Zaynabiyat, the Yemeni poet indicates in a media interview that this group is concerned with managing women’s prisons and participating in torture operations, pointing out that the torture operations might include electrocution, food deprivation and imprisonment in an isolation cell.
The Zaynabiyat group, which was established after the coup d’etat of the Houthis in 2015, is made up of an unknown number of women loyal to the Houthis and wives of Houthis leaders.
Yemeni activists say it resembles the Hesba women’s groups formed by ISIS previously.