Thursday, July 26, 2007


Over 100 people bravely took to the streets in Mogadishu on Thursday protesting against the raping of five women on Wednesday night allegedly by government soldiers.

The protesters chanted anti-government slogans and gathered in front of a hotel in north Mogadishu in the first unauthorized public protest in Mogadishu since the government imposed martial law in the city several months ago.

“The troops, who dressed in government military forces uniform, raided our camp last night raping five women including a mother with a newly-born baby,” Madey Ahmed, one of the protesters told Afriquenligne by telephone.

Throughout the Somali conflict, rape has been used as a weapon of war by all the factions to punish rival ethnic factions. The UN Human Rights Commission Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women reported that rape and sexualized violence were widespread in Somalia. Aggressors attack women from rival clans and ethnic minorities. Such occurrences are even more prevalent in displaced persons camps.

Human Rights Watch has reported Somali women who have been raped face not only the physical and psychological trauma of rape but also the likelihood of rejection by their families. A strong cultural stigma is attached to rape in Somalia, as elsewhere. In numerous cases, families have begged UNHCR officials to take their young daughter to another camp after she has been raped because of the stigma on the family. In other cases, once a woman is raped she is ostracized by her husband and isolated from her family.

For fear of being stigmatized, Somali women refugees who are victims of rape often refuse to acknowledge publicly that they have been raped, even when medical evidence indicates that the attack occurred. In other cases, women do not seek medical assistance or file a police report because they do not want it known that they were raped.

Most women who have been raped only go to a doctor if they suffer other injuries from being beaten, knifed or shot, and even then, many do not mention that they were raped.

On occasion, if a rapist is identified as another refugee, the families settle the case through the elders with the rapist's family paying "blood money" in compensation for the crime committed. Unfortunately, the settlement is usually negotiated on behalf of the woman by her male relatives, sometimes against her wishes, and the settlement money often remains with the male relatives.

The following is from Shabelle Media Network (Mogadishu)

Demonstrators Accuse Gov Troops of Raping Five Refugee Women
By Aweys Osman Yusuf

Some of Mogadishu's Internally Displaced People in Heliwa district staged a huge protest against Somali government troops who raided a refugee camp and raped at least five refugee women including a teenage a girl.

The demonstration which was orchestrated by the relatives and neighbors of the victims took place in north of the capital with protestors chanting anti-government troops slogans.

Aden Osman, the husband of one the raped women, said he was taken out with a gun point by the troops, while butting him.

"They were several men armed with AK 47 guns and they said they were searching for insurgents and they began beating me until I went out conscious and then went for the women in the camp, raping them," he said.

Mumino Mohammed, one of the victims, told Shabelle that she had 15 days old baby. "I gave birth a baby 15 days ago, I told them, three soldiers who came into my shelter, that I have very small child but they raped me the three of them, despite my screams and begging that should leave me alone," she said.

Osman said they even raped 15 year old girl in the camp. "No one came to help us. All women in the camp were crying and screaming for help. They beat every single man in the camp," he said.

Nourto Haji, one of the victimized women, also said she was tortured before the troops raped her. "I am a mother of four children, and they beat my husband ordering him that he and the children get out," she said.

In the protest, they asked Somalia's transitional government to do something about their complaints and punish the soldiers who commited the cruel acts against them.

On Wednesday a demonstration against government troops also took place in north of the capital. Protesters were complaining that troops robbed their properties.

Hundreds of Somali businessmen and women were chanting anti-government slogans, marching inside Karan district for hours.

Some of them told Shabelle that the market in the area was raided and robbed twice in this week, demanding that the government should release one of their fellow traders.

Mohamoud Hassan Kulmiye, one of the rally-makers, said that they will continue staging demonstrations against the government until Aweys Mohammed Gaal, a shopkeeper, who was apprehended by Somali troops is released.

Abdifitah Nour Sabriye, the deputy of Mogadishu mayor, told Shabelle after he was contacted on Thursday that there were no government troops who raped IDPs.

"First, no group can stage a demonstration in Mogadishu without our knowledge and there are no government forces that raped women," he said.

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