Somalia: Human Rights Watch Reports Forced Marriage and Rape of Girls and Young Women
Tuesday, March 6, 2012 9:25 AM

Human Rights Watch has released a new report detailing al-Shabbab’s (an Islamist armed group that now controls most of Somalia) practice of forcing young girls into marriage, rape, and their use of children as soldiers. The report identifies that girls and young women are targeted in schools, public places and their homes. Because this sexual and gender-based violence is carried on with impunity, flight is often the only form of protection available. Many refugee families told Human Rights Watch that one of the main reasons they left Somalia was fear of forced marriage.

When girls resist or their family members try to protect them they face severe repercussions, including death. One witness described how al-Shabbab buys houses and furnishes them for the girls to live in, and where combatants visit them. If one "husband" dies, another replaces him. Compounding the problem is the fact that the issue of rape is taboo in Somalia. There is a profound stigma associated with sexual violence and, therefore, victims and their families rarely speak out. Facing stigma, insecurity and lack of access to medical facilities, flight is often the only option.

Compiled from:  No Place for Children, Child Recruitment, Forced Marriage and Attacks on Schools in Somalia (February 2012); WUNRN (3 March 2012)