Rights and legal status are often tested at the margins. Questions are less likely to arise about how general principles apply under ordinary circumstances than about how specific articles of particular laws speak to unusual situations. The test of legal status comes through case law in the form of judgments about claims made in the context of specific, even peculiar, fact sequences. Rights are affirmed or asserted on behalf of social groups when courts or tribunals find that they have been violated in individual cases. So it is, too, with citizen rights for Yemeni women. Under ordinary circumstances the daughters of Yemeni parents, born and raised in Yemen, who marry Yemeni men and raise Yemeni children, are not conscious of limitations on their citizenship. Questions arise under unusual political or personal conditions where general principles are open to interpretation, where both the facts and the judgment are likely to be affected by race, class, regionalism, and partisanship. In this chapter we examine issues of gender and citizenship in Yemen through the prism of two asylum applications in which women claimed discrimination at least partly on the basis of gender. Both women had migrated across national boundaries auring times of profound political changes. Their cases show how citizenship rights of women and their children can be affected directly by circumstances of national, regional, and global politics.

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Copyright © 2000 Syracuse University Press. This chapter first appeared in Gender and Citizenship in the Middle East.

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