Yemen's government on Sunday (December 22nd) accused the Iran-backed Houthis of recruiting schoolgirls into the ranks of its all-female battalion.
The militia's Zainabiyat battalion exploits those girls so they can spy on women, conduct raids on homes and suppress demonstrations, Information Minister Muammar al-Eryani said in a statement.
Al-Eryani urged international women's rights organisations to "condemn such criminal practices and all forms of aggression against women in areas under Houthi control".
He also called for pressuring Houthis to "stop using girls in combat operations".
The girls are enrolled in ideological training courses after they are recruited into the battalion, he said.
The militia is recruiting schoolgirls to use them in its terror operations, he said, thereby carrying out a "systematic annihilation of Yemeni social norms and traditions which honour women and... incriminate their use in acts of violence and political conflict".
Exploiting girls to serve Iran's aims
The Houthis are exploiting girls to implement Iran's agenda in Yemen as they grapple with a shortage of male fighters five years into the war, political analyst Faisal Ahmed told Al-Mashareq.
They are "violating international laws by recruiting young girls and boys", he said.
"After staging their coup against the government, the Houthis started to exploit the educational system to serve the Iranian agenda," he said.
First, they started to lure in girls as "female guides", and then subjected them to ideological mobilisation and military training, Ahmed said.
The recruitment of girls exposes them to psychological, behavioural and social ills that will in turn threaten Yemen's social fabric, he said.