Target: President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud
Goal: Provide protection for women and girls against rape and aid for survivors
Many women and girls who live in Mogadishu, Somalia live in constant fear of being raped. In 2013 alone, there has been a huge spike in the amount of rape and sexual abuse conducted by government soldiers in the nation’s capital, and very little has been done to protect these women, or even seek justice against these offenders. Somalia’s cabinet and president need to provide these women and girls police protection and aid should they be raped.
Women and girls who have been displaced by famine and war are prime targets for government soldiers in Mogadishu. Women and girls are often raped, sexually assaulted, stabbed numerous times, and are particularly vulnerable to abuse when they are within the camps, as they walk to markets, tend to their fields, or find firewood. Many of these victims will not report these crimes to police because they do not believe in the justice system, fear the stigma of being raped, or may be punished by the police themselves for reporting it.
A 72-page report released by Human Rights Watch details how the government can protect women. Drawing from interviews with 27 rape survivors, the document lays out the groundwork for cultural repair in Somalia. The plan combats rape, provides survivors with assistance, and develops a long term approach to end the abuse. The report also focuses on economic and legal and civil rights reform.
Some survivors in the report gave their own accounts. One woman by the name of Shamso, 34, was gang-raped in her makeshift home in a displaced persons camp. “They took turns. The men didn’t hurry because mostly women live in the camp and are no threat to them. During the attack, one of them told me, ‘You can tell anyone that we did this, we’re not scared.” Another woman, Maryam, tried to file a report with the police while bleeding out from her injuries sustained during the rape. “Before they let me go, they told me I had to wash the floor where I was bleeding,” she said. “I sat down, they gave me a brush and I cleaned the floor.”
The Somalian government needs to respond to this epidemic immediately. They need to hire officers – both men and women – who are trained and truly care for the protection of women. The government also needs to provide adequate amenities for survivors of rape and ensure that reports filed for rape are taken seriously and the offender is prosecuted.
Dear President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud,
I wish to inform you of the dire rape epidemic that is plaguing your nation, especially your capital. Many women and girls do not have the necessary protection to fight against rape, and the fact that these rapists are not scared of anything happening to them does not indicate a strong justice system.
The levels of rape have risen in the 2013, and I hope they will rise again in the new year. I demand that your government do more to secure protection for women and girls, and also give them adequate aid should they become survivors of rape. I ask that you hire officers of the law who will respect women’s rights and ensure that justice is served against rapists and other sexual offenders. All your citizens should feel safe, and that includes women.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Sgt. G.D Robinson via Wikipedia