Somalia: Rape and Sexual Abuse Rampant Nationwide
Monday, January 9, 2012 10:20 AM

Famine and combat have claimed tens of thousands of lives in Somalia this year, forcing hundreds of thousands to seek aid and refugee camps for survival. Amidst this exodus, the incidence of rape and sexual abuse has drastically increased. Victims report abuse at the hands of Islamist militants, including members of the Shabab group, government soldiers, and other armed men. Refugee camps and roadblocks are especially dangerous sites.

It is reported that Shabab members have also increased their practice of "forced marriage," or "temporary marriage," as "payment" for young militia members. But Sheik Mohamed Farah Ali, a member of the Somali government army who defected from the Shabab command, says that the "marriages" have "no cleric, no ceremony, nothing," and if a girl refuses to "marry," she is killed. Girls as young as 10 and 12 are forced into these arrangements of what amounts to sexual slavery.

Because Somalia is so politically unstable, most international aid organizations do not operate there. The few existing Somali aid groups are underfunded and threatened for their work. Fartuun Adan of the Elman Peace and Human Rights Center in Somalia would like to expand the counseling and medical aid her group provides to rape victims, but her budget is only $5,000 per month. Ms. Adan says "There's no justice here, no protection."

Compiled from: Gettleman, Jeffrey, For Somali Women, Pain of Being a Spoil of War, The New York Times (27 December 2011).