Somalia and the gag on reporting rape
Yesterday alleged nineteen year old rape victim Fadumo Abdiqadir was given a six month sentence in a Somali court in Mogadishu. As bizarre as it may sound, nobody from the Somali government or parliament has condemned or spoken out against this callous sentencing. But what’s more appalling is the silence of the international community regarding the case, whilst the UN has indeed called for a “proper investigation” in the case & warned the Somali government over this, this would be deemed insufficient of a measure for a government that ranks as number one in regards to corruption.
A growing number of Somali women are becoming rape victims, but few are those who come out in the open to report the crime they have been subjected, as often they fear reprisals and their lives are threatened. The handful that does come out however, are subjected to measures that are more befitting to a criminal than a victim, such as in this case of the nineteen year old woman.
This is not the first time an incident of such a nature occurs in Somalia. Last February a journalist and another woman who claimed she had been raped AMISOM soldiers were arrested in a similar case. According to Human Rights Watch the woman and those involved in the case were harassed and intimidated by the police, intelligence services and military personnel.
According to UN statistics 1700 Somali women were raped last year in Mogadishu alone. However of those recorded by the UN, only a handful of these women actually reported their crimes for fear of repercussions. This means that the actual number of raped women could be much higher, because a lot of women might not even admit they’re rape victims to the UN.
Also sentenced in court yesterday were the journalist who interviewed her, Mohamed Bashir and the manager of Radio Shabelle whom Bashir is employed by, Abdimalik Yusuf. Bashir was handed down a sentence of six months, while Yusuf was sentenced to one year. What is interesting is, that both men who were accused of rape, were neither arrested nor faced trial or any legal procedures.
With the repeated sentencing of a rape victim and a journalist who tried to publicize her case, is the Somali government trying to get a message across to other rape victims and journalists who are thinking of going down that path?