“Here, Rape is Normal”, Somali Women tell Human Rights Watch

Women should not live in fear of rape,Human Rights Watch.
Somalia’s new cabinet should urgently adopt meaningful reforms to confront rampant sexual violence, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today in Kenya’s capital Nairobi.

Over the past year, women and girls endured high levels of rape and sexual abuse, including by government soldiers, in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu.

“Many women and girls in Mogadishu live in constant fear of rape,” said Liesl Gerntholtz, women rights director at Human Rights Watch.

“Somali government’s public commitments have not materialized into better protection for women and support for victims.”

The 72 page report “Here, Rape is normal,: A five point plan to curtail sexual violence in Somalia,” provides roadmap for the government and its international donors to establish a comprehensive strategy to reduce rape, provide survivors with immediate and urgent assistance and develop a long term approach to end these abuses.

The report focuses on improving prevention, increasing access to emergency health services, ensuring justice, legal and policy reforms and promoting women’s equality.

According to Human Rights watch they have interviewed 27 women in Mogadishu who survived rape, with some of them experiencing assault by multiple perpetrators on more than one occasion; all cases took place since august 2012 when the new Somali Federal Government took office.

The incident occurred in Benadir region which includes Mogadishu, an area primarily under government control and where resources have been invested to improved security and rebuild government institutions, including the judiciary and health services.

Armed assailants, including members of state security forces, have sexually assaulted, raped, shot and stabbed numerous women and girls.

“Women and girls displaced by war and famine from their homes throughout the country are particularly vulnerable to abuse both inside internally displaced persons camps and as they walk to market, tend to their fields, or forage for firewood.”Human Rights Watch said.

United Nations reported nearly 800 cases of sexual and Gender based violence in Mogadishu alone for the first six months of 2013 though actual number is likely much higher.

According to UNHCR about one third of the victims of sexual violence in Somalia are children under 18 years of age.

The federal Government of Somalia has accused the right groups of exaggerating the rape cases in the country.

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