Yemeni women sell jewellery to feed their families

Instead of buying gold as is traditional ahead of Eid Al Adha, women are selling it to provide for their children.
A jewellery shop in Aden’s Al Za’afran market. Mohammed Al Qalisi for The National
A jewellery shop in Aden’s Al Za’afran market. Mohammed Al Qalisi for The National

ADEN // Desperate to keep his children from starving to death in Yemen’s war, Hani Al Adimi had to turn to his last resort – his wife’s dowry.

“I did not think that I will one day have to sell my wife’s gold – this is a shame for me, but if I don’t, my five children will die from hunger,” said the 28-year-old, who lives in the Al Turbah area of Taez province.

When peace talks between Yemen’s legitimate government and the Houthi rebels and their allies broke down in Kuwait last month, fighting on the ground intensified and the economic crisis in Yemen, especially Taez, deepened.

Mr Al Adimi used to work for Teeth Tools, a company that imported dentist equipment, in Taez. He lost his job when the company shut down because of the war.

“I could not get another job and my savings finished six months ago, so I have no choice now but to sell the gold jewellery of my wife,” he said.

“We cannot see them [our children] suffering and keep the gold jewellery with us at home.”

Some of the gold items he sold were part of his wife’s dowry. Others were gifts he had bought her when he still had a job.

But he said his wife would rather sell the gold than ask others for help. She was happy that at least she still had some jewellery to tide them over in this difficult time.

“My wife has enough gold jewellery to provide us with food for eight more months at least, and then I hope I can find work and compensate my loyal wife,” Mr Al Adimi said.

Yemenis used to buy gold before Eid Al Adha, but these days, many are selling it instead.

The value of gold has increased in the last two months from YR9000 (US$36) to YR11500 ($46) per gram for standard 24-karat gold.

With gold prices rising, many women in Yemen – and especially in Taez province which has been hard-hit – are selling their jewellery to buy basic commodities, clothes or medicines.

Walid Al Thobhani, 35, the owner of Al Walid jewellery shop in Al Turbah, said the number of women selling their gold has more than doubled since the start of the war.

“Women are selling gold nowadays because gold’s value has increased and women are in dire need of money to buy commodities for Eid. Usually before Eid women buy gold, but this year the opposite is happening,” Mr Al Thobhani said.

Hafidha Alwan, in her 40s, has been depending on charities and people to support her family of six since her husband, Ayman, lost his job as a tutor in Taez city in April 2015.

“I have not sold any gold to buy food, but I need to buy clothes for my children to celebrate Eid. This is the only reason that forced me to sell my gold jewellery,” she told The National.

Ms Alwan said this is the third Eid that she has had to sell gold to buy clothes for her children. Charities and people may help with food but they will not help with clothes, she said.

“We should not think about the future and deprive our children of their happiness at the moment, I will plant the happiness now in the hearts of my children and Allah will not forget us in the future.”

Published: September 1, 2016 04:00 AM


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