Published On: Thu, Dec 22nd, 2011

SOMALIA: Silent rape epidemic on the rise

Picture: Plastic huts in Badbaado Camp, Mogadishu. July 2011 (Kate Holt/IRIN)

MOGADISHU — The number of reported rapes in camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, has risen sharply, creating “a climate of fear”, according to a civil society source.

“We have had the problem of rape in the city but what we are witnessing now is on a scale never seen before,” said Mama Hawo Haji, a women’s rights activist. “For instance, in the last two days alone, we have taken 32 rape cases to the hospital; in the past four months we recorded 80 cases.”

The numbers could be higher, Haji said, as many women do not report rape, fearing that the perpetrators could return to hurt them.

“In many cases, the perpetrators are government security forces who are supposed to protect the women; this has led to a climate of fear in the camps,” she said.

Haji said one of the reasons for the surge in rape cases was the fact that there were many more IDPs without protection in the city – “be it protection from the clan or the government”.

Mohamed Moge, a human rights activist, told IRIN the government was not in control of its own security forces. “The TFG [Transitional Federal Government] does not really have complete control over those it claims are its forces.”

He said the disorganization within the ranks of the TFG was “a big contributing factor to the overall insecurity, not only rape”.

A civil society activist, who requested anonymity, told IRIN that in Badbaado, one of the largest camps in the city, a baby was killed few days ago when men jumped over a fence in an attempt to rape the women. “One of them landed on the baby, who died instantly.”

Many of the IDPs fled their homes for Mogadishu because of drought and famine and violence in the south and central parts of the country in search of food and safety.

Jooqey* arrived in Mogadishu in June seeking food for her family. In November, men in uniform attacked the IDP camp she was in and looted her food rations before raping her.

“I had received the food that afternoon and they knew it; they took my food and honour,” she said. “I want to go back home as soon as I can. I know who some of them are and cannot do anything.”

Jooqey said she was afraid to report the rapists to anyone. “I don’t want to suffer again.”

Roar Bakke Sorensen, communications specialist with the UN Population Fund, told IRIN: “UNFPA is extremely worried about these allegations we hear almost daily now from Mogadishu. We are scaling up our activities… Last month we trained staff in the newly developed information management system, which is a tool that we use to collect and analyze data, so that we can target our response and give the survivors adequate assistance according to their human rights.”

Protection proposal

Abdullahi Shirwa, head of Somalia’s National Disaster Management Agency, told IRIN his organization had forwarded a proposal to the cabinet to protect all IDPs.

“We proposed the creation of a special unit to protect the camps; we also proposed that any member of security forces or outside who rapes should be arrested and charged quickly and given tough sentences,” Shirwa said.

He said his agency was waiting for the cabinet to act on the proposal – “I hope we will get a positive response soon.”

However, Haji said rape was on increase yet the government was not addressing it and “giving the attention it deserves. They [government] seem busy fighting each other instead of protecting the public.”

She said women’s groups were raising awareness of the issue and would continue to do so “until someone listens to us. We will continue shouting from the rooftops until rape stops.”

Calling on Somali men to join women in stopping the menace, Haji said: “I want all Somali men to remember that their mother is a woman, their daughter is a woman, their sister is a woman and their wife is a woman. How would they feel if any of them was raped? I want them to feel angry whenever a woman is raped.”

Source: IRIN

  • issaq prince

    looooooooooooooooooooool the hawiye people wallah have no shame. R.I.P to the somali name

    • amal

      stop using the name issaq to spread hatred subhanAllah

  • PuntlandGeezer

    xamar is more secure then hargesia.

    • ghjih

      ok mr darood i agree with you and i also think that bosaso is the safest place in horn of africa, all the l
      killings of high level officials out side masjids in bosaso and other big darood villiages.loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool get a life and stop being jealous of the issaqs.i am sure if you turn to Allah you can be succesful like us

  • Ahmad

    They raped their women when the somali stare fell in 1991. Today, nothing has changed…and Allah will not change the condition of the southern somalis until they change themselves. 20 years have passed and their condition is worse. Their problems are a direct result of their own actions and they have no one to blame but themselves…how many people have said, ‘Let’s read Faatiha over southern Somalia…’….it seems as if the problem is not the violent extremist groups or the war lords before them…it appears that many of the general public are the cause of their own suffering…May Allah help them….Yaa Allah forgive them and guide them…Yaa Allah guide them!

    • Abraham

      So true

  • Getreal

    One question. Do you need a licence to get a gun in Mogadishu? If not, Why do these people assume women and children cannot protect themselves. Women can secure their own parameters within the camp by taking turns to alert others of intruders whilst petroling. Are we to assume only NGOs or TFG are able. These women need to be empowered to look after their own interests without selling I am weak I need men to protect me.

  • Kayse

    The reason the south is the way it is its not because there are warlords, extremists or pirates as they claim. These are only excuses. These things are embedded into their culture, values, practice and way of life. This is who they are and that's why us northerners can not understand them nor share a country with them. Its not about what Siad Bare did or the civil war; its about their way of life and culture of guns, rape and violence.

    We have different views and approach to issues.

    They do not respect their elders and their elders most of them are shameless. In the North, elders are respected and rape is not in our language. Recently some kids have picked up the southern culture and today there are rapists on the loose in Somaliland cities and they should be burnt alive.

    In the North, our women use to sleep in the open air whenever it was a hot night. Today, I cant say the same because we have people from the south, we have corrupted ones from our own…

    There is nothing the UN, USA, EU or Turkey can do to help Mogadishu because this is who they are.

    When one talks about union or greater Somalia, he or she is also telling me to trust my sisters with these southerners. No way Jose!

    • Red Mussa

      honestly your explanation for why they act that way is because there southeners?…..its in the southener culture to rape, steal an be violent?…i honestly laugh, maybe your not in a city where you can actually have a look but i dont blame you, some people just dont know what there talking about, but would feel better to have a say.

    • kayse supporter

      you are very wise mr kayse, i only wish there were more poeple like you in the world

  • Abraham

    Fear Allah Kayse and watch your mouth.

  • American boy

    Kayse for president!

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