New Report: Addressing Sexual Violence in Somalia
Thursday, March 6, 2014 10:40 AM

Sexual violence has become so prevalent in Somalia that rape is considered “normal”. This is according to a recent Human Rights Watch (HRW) report documenting multiple cases of rape and sexual assault in Somalia, including by Somali security forces, since the 2012 inauguration of a new Federal Government. The report’s authors interviewed several women in and around the capital Mogadishu where the government and international organizations have invested the most resources in security and rebuilding government institutions after two decades of civil conflict and state collapse. Despite these investments, women’s vulnerability to sexual violence has increased in the capital because of the large populations of displaced women at refugee camps and a justice system that fails to hold perpetrators accountable for violence and abuse.

In May 2013, the new Somali government signed an agreement with the United Nation's Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, promising to comprehensively address the country’s high levels of violence against women. To assist Somalia in meeting its obligations, HRW outlined immediate and long-term national strategies to reduce sexual violence and improve gender equality. HRW recommends increasing the number of well-trained, competent police officers to enhance security, improving women’s access to emergency health and social services, and judicial, legal and political reforms that promote women’s rights and hold perpetrators accountable. As Somalia is highly dependent on foreign military and financial aid, HRW encourages donors to bolster initiatives that address sexual violence, not only because such abuse violates women’s fundamental human rights, but also as a strategy for long-term development and stability in the region through women’s empowerment.

Compiled from: Holland, Lisa, Rape In Somalia 'Is Normal', HRW Report Finds, Sky News (13 February 2014); “Here, Rape is Normal,” Human Rights Watch (13 February 2014)