Somali male journalist, Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim, is facing jail time. His crime? Interviewing a woman (also facing jail time), who claimed to have been raped by soldiers.
Court officials claim that there is medical evidence that the woman had not been raped and that she and the reporter had insulted the government in suggesting otherwise. This story is only the latest demonstration in Somalia’s general attitude against women — uncaring and unyielding.
Human Rights Watch Africa Director Daniel Bekele condemned the arrests as a “politically motivated attempt to blame and silence” as well as point out how often rape cases go under-reported due to fear of backlash. A United Nations official has also condemned the results of the case while the U.S. Department of State has since given a press statement displaying concern.
Experts have ranked Somalia as one of the worst places in the world for women to live. The sheer amounts of discrimination and sexual violence against women living in the country is frankly, disturbing. In militia-controlled areas of Somalia, any speck of hope shines dim.
Women’s rights activist Lisa Shannon interviewed a woman whose father was killed when he refused to force his daughter into sexual slavery by the militia known as Al-Shabaab. She was also brutally gang-raped by Al-Shabaab officers in front of her family.
Somalia is clearly no stranger to the concept of human trafficking. This past April a man was arrested for kidnapping nine children — eight of which were female — with the intention of selling them.
Childbirth rates often result in death for women due to absent medical supplies. There are also no laws currently against sexual harassment, marital rape, and domestic violence.
Up until recently, female genital mutilation was present in 96% of the female population. However, a ban under Somalia’s new constitution has taken the proper legal step to increase the safety of women. The Sixth Clan network started by activist Asha Haji Elmi also fights and provides support for Somali women.
Notions of feminism and patriarchy are equally lacking and grossly overindulgent. These women face the very real possibility of bringing harm unto themselves or even family if they attempt to push against the societal status quo. For those wanting to escape, their only chance lays a border away, in Kenyan refugee camps where even then they still face difficulties that include rape.
There is no describing the horrors a Somali woman is forced to live through.