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Violence against Somali women and children is becoming widespread and it is important we act now to address it! We must safeguard women and children and ensure freedom of press. We must create and implement safeguarding and child protection policies at all levels of Somali society.

Letter to
Presidential Palace, Office of the President, Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud
Ministry of Justice Mogadishu, Somalia H.E. Abdullahi Abyan Nur
Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon
and 5 others
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Fawzia Yusuf Haji Adan
Minister of Social Development Dr. Maryan Qasim
Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Bangura
Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General for Somalia Augustin Mahiga
State Minister of the Presidential Palace, Office of the President, Somalia H.E Farah Sheikh Abdulkader
In February 2013, the conviction of a 27-year old Somali mother of five who alleged gang-rape by Somali security forces, alongside the journalist who interviewed her, caused widespread outrage and prompted many organisations and individuals to speak out and call on the courts to review the decision.

"The court's decision to convict an alleged rape victim and the journalist who interviewed her is a terrible miscarriage of justice, and sends a chilling signal to victims of sexual assault in Somalia" Said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

Although, this particular rape victim has now been acquitted and released by the appeals court of Somalia and the journalist who interviewed her has been released from jail, it is extremely worrying and unacceptable to treat an alleged rape victim and a journalist in such a manner. Thus, there is an urgent need to protect both survivors of sexual violence and and ensure freedom of press in Somalia.

This case highlights the need for urgent action to address violence against Somali women within Somali territories and critique the manner in which Somali authorities deal with such grave issues of gender-based violence.

The medical examination referred to as the ‘two finger test’ which was used to establish whether this woman was raped was not only inappropriate and unscientific but we fear also physically and psychologically damaging. Please see the following letter by Physicians for Human Rights:

Violence against Somali women and children, especially sexual violence has become a rampant issue since the collapse of the former central government, the consequent civil war, displacement, poverty, famine and culminating in Internally Displaced People’s Camps (IDPs).

We, as concerned Somali citizens are appalled by the way this particular rape case has been handled by the authorities of Somalia because this constitutes a serious hindrance in the efforts to curtail gender-based violence and freedom of press under the rule of law. The conviction of this journalist amounts to a serious violation of freedom of press which undermines the democratic system of the state of Somalia and we call on the new government to address this issue effectively and fairly. We urge the government of Somalia to take a long term approach to remedy this crisis and protect Somali women and children as they are the future.

We call on the governing authorities of Somalia to:

1. Create, incorporate and implement child protection and safeguarding policies at all levels of governance and civil society.

2. Set up an independent investigative body that would research on crimes against women and children and specifically those of a sexual nature.

3. Set up rape crisis centres with trained staff to provide holistic support to victims of sexual violence.

4. To ensure transparency of the legal and judicial processes and ensure freedom of press.

5. Effectively communicate the laws of the land and the rights of all its citizens.

Lastly, we call on all Western governments and donors, especially the UK and the US to support our campaign and review their diplomatic relations with the state of Somalia to work towards addressing these issues which violates the most basic human rights of its citizens.

Thank you.

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