SOMALIA: Somalian Women Subjected to Rape, Forced Marriage and even Beheading

Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Women's Views on News
Eastern Africa
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

Since rival clans overthrew the government in Somalia in 1991, the country has been in the grip of a vicious civil war.

The anarchy has allowed various militia to emerge, none more feared than the religiously-motivated al-Shabaab, which now controls large areas of southern and central Somalia, as well as the capital Mogadishu.

Stories are emerging of women subjected to rape, forced marriage and even beheading at the hands of these militia men.

Take Amina Ahmed as a good example. She was living with her aunt when a warlord attacked their home to try to force her to marry him. Her aunt was killed and Ms Ahmed fled to Yemen.

“This year we have been hearing a lot about forced marriages and rapes,” says a member of an aid agency working with Somali refugees in Yemen.

Like most who spoke about the actions of the hardline Islamist al-Shabaab and other militias in Somalia, he refused to have his name published, fearing reprisals against his family still living in Somalia.

The head office of the aid agency also requested their name not be published for fear of attacks on their staff members in the country.

“Unmarried women are forced to marry and if she refuses they say she's a non-Muslim. Many parents choose to send their girls away with relatives and friends so as not to be forced into marriage or raped.

“If a woman refuses a forced marriage, we have reports of them being beheaded and their head sent to their father.”