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Women's campaign in Yemen protests Houthi dress code rules

Houthi forces require women to wear a black abaya that covers their entire bodies.
A Yemeni woman shops at a market in Yemen's third city of Taiz, on December 15, 2022. - Yemeni society, although deeply conservative, has traditionally allowed space for individual freedoms. But this is changing under the Huthi movement, which was founded with the aim of pushing for a theocracy. (Photo by AHMAD AL-BASHA/AFP via Getty Images)

Yemeni women are taking to Twitter to defy the Houthi rebels' strict dress code. 

What happened: Yemenis have been posting on the social media site using the Arabic-language “Yemeni identity” hashtag. The posts consist of pictures of Yemeni women in colorful traditional clothing and are in response to the strict dress code imposed on parts of Yemen controlled by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

The Iran-backed Houthis took power in 2014 and have recently tightened dress code rules for women in Yemen, Al-Araby and Arab News reported. 



Women in Houthi areas must wear a long, black, loose-fitting “abaya” that covers them from head to toe.

Few users addressed the restriction of the colored abaya directly. Twitter user @tasabihalh0rimy wrote on Saturday, “This is our identity. Black is a lonely color.”

Some of the photos also showed Yemeni men in traditional and colorful clothing alongside women. 



Why it matters: The dress code is strictly enforced in Houthi parts of Yemen. In 2021, Yemeni model Intisar al-Hammad was imprisoned by Houthi authorities for “indecency.” She had also worn colorful clothing in pictures. 

Know more: The hijab is not compulsory in parts of Yemen controlled by the rival Saudi-backed government, though most women wear one for a variety of societal and religious reasons. 

Yemen’s neighbor Saudi Arabia required women to wear a black abaya for decades, but the kingdom removed the law in 2018. 

The ongoing protests in Iran began when a Kurdish woman was allegedly beaten to death by religious police in relation to how she wore her head covering. Iranian authorities have been punishing women over the hijab more harshly recently, Al-Monitor’s correspondent in Tehran reported last week. 

Iran’s dress code for women is less strict than the one in Houthi territory. 

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