A memo outlining the new rules forbids activities that dissolve the barriers and inhibitions between women and men

Houthis restrict gender mixing in humanitarian aid organizations  

The Houthis’ humanitarian oversight body has directed aid organizations operating in central Yemen to prevent gender mixing in their training activities in line with a new set of rules governing relationships between men and women. 

Effective Dec. 29, 2019, all aid organizations in Yemen’s Ibb governorate must exclude all training activities that require women to mingle with men in groups, according to an official memorandum signed by a director of the Supreme Council for the Management and Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and International Cooperation (SCMCHA). Three aid organizations in Ibb confirmed the authenticity of the document. 

The memo further bans any exchange of personal information between men and women, and forbids all activities aimed at "provoking laughter, fun and entertainment among the trainees, which work to dissolve the barriers and fade the inhibitions of modesty between women and men, which is totally contrary to the teachings of the Islamic religion." The memorandum notes that aid organizations should adhere to the topics and instructions agreed upon in advance with SCMCHA. 

The restrictions outlined in the memo are the latest attempt by Houthi authorities to separate men and women in public. Last month, Houthi gunmen were seen raiding women's clothing stores and filmed burning fashionable belts worn by women in abayas, which the gunmen said was contrary to Islamic instruction. Houthi authorities also closed a number of coffee shops in Sanaa on charges of gender mixing.

SCMCHA was formed in early November as a successor to the National Authority for the Management and Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (NAMCHA). The new council also has expanded financial oversight powers, including coordinating directly with international humanitarian donors, which used to fall to the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation (MOPIC). 

The decree that formed SCMCHA gives the council sweeping authority, stipulating that each humanitarian organization operating in Yemen must have a member of the Houthi national security apparatus on its board of directors; each humanitarian project must pay 2 percent of its program costs to the Houthi council; and the council will define all humanitarian assistance priorities and control each aid project from start to finish.



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