Yemenite government officials have raised the alarm about the physical condition of Entesar al-Hammadi, a Yemenite-Ethiopian model and actress arrested last year by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.
Al-Hammadi and a friend reportedly were abducted by the militia in 2021 while walking in the streets of the Yemenite capital, Sanaa, on the way to a photoshoot. The performer was sentenced to five years in prison for alleged prostitution and drug possession, according to Arab News.
The then-20-year-old model has denied the allegations and claimed she was arrested for her refusal to cooperate with the Houthis. Amnesty International stated that she was forced to confess to the alleged crimes.
Yemen Information Minister Moammar Al-Eryani stated that al-Hammadi was sentenced illegally “when she refused to work with the militia’s prostitution networks to trap political and media figures.”
Al-Hammadi was subjected to a virginity test in a political security prison and has been held in solitary confinement since her arrest, according to Arab News.
The government officials’ report said the model was found injured outside her cell this week, after a Houthi captor brutally attacked her “with electric wires, causing bruising on her face and body.”
The incident occurred after al-Hammadi was caught chewing khat, a stimulant plant-based drug that is very popular in Yemen.
A group of activists and journalists have started an online petition calling for al-Hammadi’s release, saying that “she is subjected to beatings and harsh brutal treatment … because she has no support or intercessor within the Houthi authority in Sanaa.”
Al-Hammadi became famous in Yemen after a photographer published photos of her on social media wearing traditional outfits. She later participated in a TV drama series and drew the ire of conservative circles for posing for photoshoots without a hijab.