Imagine your daughter is a South African woman living in a remote village in strictly Shariah governed Yemen, with no access to the outside world besides a small prepaid cell phone which she secretly uses to contact family back home. Imagine your daughter is subjected to physical and mental abuse from her husband and you are a continent away. Imagine there is no way your daughter can leave this village without either being beaten or killed by her new found family.
While the thought alone is incomprehensible, for Faatimah and Yusuf Adams from Mitchells Plain, this is their daily reality. The plight of their 40 year old daughter Masnoenah Al Taheri has consumed their every thought for ten years.
In an interview with VOC News this week in their humble semi-attached home in Portlands, the elderly couple spoke about their ten battle to get their daughter home from tribal Yemen. They both fight through tears as they tell of their challenges and the difficulty they have had in their attempts to repatriate Masnoena. It’s been almost eleven years since Masnoenah’s husband, Saleh Al Taheri, abducted her and their son.
The parents, who say they had a suspicious feeling about Al Taheri since the day he met him, are overcome with sadness. This ordeal has taken its toll on their already deteriorating health as they worry about the well being of their daughter.
Faatimah explains there had been attempts to try and raise the money needed for plane tickets and other documentation but no real progress has developed from their attempts. Through short phone conversations with Masnoenah, they fear that never seeing their daughter again will become a harsh reality.
“He [Saleh] promised to bring her back home to us. We told him that we will even try and come up with the money for her return but he denied our help and said that accepting this gesture is not proper in the Yemeni culture. Instead, he said that he will buy her a plane ticket and send her home as soon as he gets the money. This was nearly three months ago. We just learned that he in fact used that money to buy himself a truck. He has made a number of empty promises to us. We no longer trust him, in fact, we should never have let our daughter go with him,” she says.
In 2004, Al Taheri apparently promised to take Masnoenah and their then only son to Makkah to perform haj. According to Faatimah, her daughter had never set foot in the holy cities. That had just been a facade to get Masnoenah and his son to Yemen where he planned on keeping her for the rest of their lives. Trusting her husband, Masnoenah agreed to stay for three months but until today, she has never returned home.
Masnoenah met Saleh while he was working in Cape Town. The abuse allegedly began while the couple were in South Africa. The couple married after just a few months and now have two children, the eldest, Dhaifallah and the youngest, Rajeh. According to Faatimah, she was unaware of the abuse at this time as Masnoenah kept it a secret, not wanting her parents to worry.
“All we want is our daughter to come home. The department of International Relations and Cooperation say that they cannot get involved in a domestic issue and face constraints as Yemen is governed by Shariah law,” Faatimah laments.
“All we need to do is locate our daughter in Yemen and come up with the money for plane tickets, which is challenging as we are both pensioners. Maybe then we can go and fetch her.”
VOC has kept track of this family’s story for many years and the radio station’s pressure on authorities to assist them have been unsuccessful.
The family appeals to the community for assistance in any way possible, whether it be locating the village in which Masnoenah is currently being held or by sponsoring funds towards travel expenses. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)
NEXT: VOC News finally
makes contacts with Masnoenah