Nov 302007
 

As AllAfrica and the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights lay out in all too stark detail, the situation for women in Somalia is truly perilous:

From AllAfrica:

“Sexual violence remains part of daily life for many women living in camps for internally displaced people.

According to the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR, after years of war rape has become a threat to women in Somalia whenever they move along roads, due to the presence of militia at illegal roadblocks and in IDP settlements such as Galkayo, which hosts about 50,000 persons.

One of them, 33-year-old Hibo, a widow, told UNHCR that security had improved slightly since a small police station was built nearby. “However, three women were still assaulted each night, she told UNHCR. “I don’t expect much help from the police. They cannot do anything and the culprit might take revenge if I dare complain,” she said.”

“A nurse said, “Women are raped almost daily on the isolated outskirts of the town. We systematically do a tetanus shot; since young Somali women are genitally mutilated and infibulated, rapists always use a knife to rip their vagina open.

“We encourage them to talk because we want to make sure they won’t commit suicide. But sometimes we find out the truth only when it is too late. We also care for several pregnant women who look perfectly normal. Once they deliver, they kill their baby and this is how we understood that they had been raped.”

Rape has been a Somali disease ever since the central government collapsed 17 years ago, she said. The nurse said perpetrators were rarely brought to justice; that cases were usually dealt with through traditional means, with the attacker having to pay compensation to the victim’s father or husband, but never to her.”

From the UNHCR:

“GALKAYO, Somalia, October 25 (UNHCR) – When the two buses from Mogadishu finally reached Galkayo, everyone aboard felt relieved even though the road had been paved with militiamen robbing passengers at gunpoint and five women had been raped.

Once in Galkayo, the second largest city in Puntland in north-eastern Somalia, the women joined the belt of settlements sheltering displaced families that has grown around this city due to a recurrent civil conflict over the past 17 years. But although Galkayo’s relative stability attracts civilians, sexual violence remains part of daily life in many settlements where internally displaced people (IDPs) gather.

After years of war, rape has become a threat to women in Somalia when they move along roads, due to the presence of militia at illegal roadblocks. They are also at risk in IDP settlements located on the outskirts of towns such as Galkayo, which are too isolated to be secure.”

“Survivors who have been seriously hurt are sent to Maryan’s women’s clinic. A nurse, she said that rape had been a Somali disease ever since the central government collapsed 17 years ago. “Women are raped almost daily on the isolated outskirts of the town. We systematically do a tetanus shot; since young Somali women are genitally mutilated and infibulated, rapists always use a knife to rip their vagina open.”

Blood transfusions are often needed since many victims are stabbed. “We also encourage them to talk because we want to make sure they won’t commit suicide. But sometimes we find out the truth only when it is too late,” Maryan said. “We cared for several pregnant women who looked perfectly normal. Once they delivered, they killed their baby. This is how we understood that they had been raped.”

In a society where rape is taboo, perpetrators are rarely brought to justice. Cases are usually dealt with through traditional means, with the attacker having to pay compensation to the victim’s father or husband, but never to her. “When raped women come, they are so ashamed that they feel as if they were already dead,” the nurse explained.”

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 November 30, 2007  Posted by on November 30, 2007

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