25 January, 2006

The Women and Families of Hadhramaut

Families in Hadhramaut are solidly built and maintained; families are the most important core of Hadhrami life. In all families in Hadhramout, men are the head and spokesmen for families; and are the main bread earners - but it is the girls and women who play the most central role and are actually the moving forces behind most families. It is the women who are the main and central foundation of families.

Above and below: women, harvesting, in Wady Hadhramout.

Whatever men do, it is always the girls and women of the family - who are uppermost in their considerations and minds. The well being and dignity of the women is always considered first and foremost, before most big decisions would be made or undertaken. In all my years here, I have never seen or noticed a man shouting at a woman or in any way hurting a woman in public; all differences or arguments with women, are done as privately and as quietly as possible.

At home, the girls' and women's areas will always be more comfortable and more secure than any other section of the home. While traveling too, the women are given the most considerations; with their comfort and safety very much considered. Women and girls too, will spend more of the family income for their personal needs, than either boys or men.

Above: women in an open market, in Al Mukalla.

At the same time, women work hard at home: taking care of the children and the household, preparing meals; and for some - working hard in the fields or taking care of the family herd. Men shop for most of what are needed; women normally go shopping for all kitchen utensils, and for the children's and for her own clothing.

Though polygamy is allowed, it is most rare around Hadhramout; and divorce too, is most rare. It seems, once children come - divorce is almost unthinkable of. The only way I can explain this, is - again, the very important consideration that is given to women.

Wherever one goes in Hadhramout, one can notice how considerate and concerned, men are of/for women. The most shameful thing a Hadhrami can do, is to act contrary to this.

Photos: National Geographic & stevemccurry