Target: Mohamed Sheikh Hassan, Minister of Defense in Somalia
Goal: End sexual abuse against women by Somalian soldiers
Sexual exploitation and abuse by soldiers of the African Union Mission is rampant, according to a Human Rights Watch report. In the 71-page document, stories are told by Somali woman and girls of exploitation, coercion and rape by troops who seem to be misusing their positions of power for personal gain.
Years of conflict and famine in Somalia have displaced countless women and girls from their clans and families. With little employment options and lack of access to limited resources, many women and girls rely heavily on outside assistance and foreign aid to survive. Capitalizing on this, Somali troops entice vulnerable women with humanitarian aid in exchange for sexual favors. Soldiers are also accused of raping or sexually assaulting women who were seeking medical assistance or water at African Union Mission bases.
Designed to promote peace and protect Somali infrastructure, the African Union Mission, in operation since 2007, is responsible for delivering humanitarian assistance and providing camp sites for otherwise displaced men, women and children. However, many soldiers have exploited women’s poverty and lack of food for sex. In the Human Rights Report, several women, some as young as 11 years old, told harrowing stories of forced sexual intercourse, violent beatings, and even the refusal of some soldiers to wear condoms, perpetuating the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
What’s more, many of soldiers who subject women and girls to these abuses are never prosecuted for the crimes. High-ranking military officials and government authorities tend to turn a blind eye to these injustices and even blame the victims if the case is ever brought to court.
The African Union Mission’s leadership needs to put an end to these human rights abuses immediately. No woman or young girl should ever endure sexual violence in exchange for life-saving goods and services. Sign the petition to tell Somalia’s Minister of Defense to end the sexual exploitation and abuse of Somali women.
Dear Mohamed Sheikh Hassan,
The United Nations has concluded that the African Union Mission’s troops have been exploiting their powers by forcing women and young girls to perform sex acts in exchange for goods and services. Girls as young as 11 years old have been raped, abused, and coerced by soldiers in an effort to obtain medical supplies, money or even water.
These injustices must end now and a “zero tolerance” of unlawful activities on bases should be established. The soldiers who take part in such devious acts should also be prosecuted accordingly. Women and young girls’ poverty and lack of food has fueled rampant and unethical behavior that needs to be stopped.
I urge you to end the sexual exploitation and abuse of innocent Somali women by investigating these crimes and making these soldiers responsible for their shameful acts.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: PH2 PHILIP WIGGINS via Wikimedia Commons