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Somalia Jails Woman For Reporting She Was Raped

Somalia Jails Woman For Reporting She Was Raped

After Mohammed Bashir, a reporter for Somalia’s Radio Shabelle, interviewed a 19-year-old Somali woman about being raped by two journalists who work for the state-owned station Radio Mogadishu, both the journalist and the woman were arrested last week. Radio Shabelle’s chairman, Abdimalik Yusuf Mohamud, has also been arrested.

Rape is a “persistent problem” in Somalia according to the United Nations. 1,700 women were raped last year in camps for displaced people in the capital of Mogadishu; 70 percent of rapes were reportedly carried out by men in military uniforms, according to the Telegraph.

Radio Shabelle operates independently and is “considered the most popular and influential domestic station” in Somalia. Bashir’s arrest is the second time in the past that Radio Shabelle has come under fire from authorities. Somali troops had raided the station’s offices in Mogadishu on October 26, saying that it was in a government building that had been vacated. Mohamud, Radio Shabelle’s chairman, had contended that the government was trying to silence his station.

The unnamed young woman had told Bashir that

“One of the men threatened me with a pistol, and took me to the bedroom by force…both of them raped me several times, destroying my pride and dignity.”

“I am appealing to the government to take legal action against the rapists, they might have done the same to other poor girls.”

The woman’s interview was posted on YouTube and broadcast on the Radio Shabelle website last week.

Authorities say that the young woman and Bashir have been charged with defamation and kept them in detention. The two journalists who allegedly committed the rape have not been arrested.

Last Thursday, Nicholas Kay, the U.N. special representative for Somalia, said that the U.N. was now monitoring the “new rape allegation in Mogadishu” and has issued a warning that “legal representation, proper investigation and media freedom (are) important issues.”

Somali Government Has Previously Quashed Reports of Rape

The Somali government’s suppression of the press in cases of rape is not new. It has arguably become a “common occurrence” for journalists and alleged rape victims to be arrested under the current government, Somalia’s first internationally recognized since 1991.

In a case that drew international condemnation, another Somali journalist and a survivor of rape were jailed in February for a year for “offending state institutions.” They were released after two months in the wake of intense international criticism.

In August, police detained a Somali woman who had allegedly been abducted and gang raped by African Union soldiers. She was also questioned by security services at the national intelligence facilities of the presidential palace and by committee members at the shelter where she has been housed. On both of these occasions, she was denied access to legal counsel in violation of international legal standards and best practices, Human Rights Watch underscores.

“There are now a lot of issues that I’m facing,” the woman told Human Rights Watch. “I can never go back to where I came from because everybody is talking about me. My husband is having challenges… I’m wondering, what is next for me?”

A journalist who interviewed the woman and those who helped her with medical assistance and shelter have all been harassed by the military, intelligence services and the police. As Human Rights Watch states, while the government has undertaken an investigation, it is “deeply flawed” and a new one that is impartial and transparent must be conducted.

Government spokesman Abdirahman Omar Osman says that “journalists perform a critical role and we want them to be able to work without fear or favor” and that “a free press is at the heart of every democracy and is guaranteed under our new constitution.” But the Somali government still has far to go to take sufficient measures to ensure that a transparent legal investigation of rape is carried out and that the country is indeed a democracy with a free press.

 

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Photo via Thinkstock

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136 comments

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10:45AM PST on Dec 3, 2013

Disgraceful...:(

2:14AM PST on Dec 3, 2013

Muslim males are the scourge of humanity and should be castrated at birth!

1:34AM PST on Dec 3, 2013

THIS MUST STOP

5:08PM PST on Dec 2, 2013

Muslims truly have no heart for women on any level. They are just plain evil people. They would throw their own mothers to the wolves.

12:36PM PST on Dec 2, 2013

So Outrageous - why does the United Nations not fine the Governments responsible for letting the
rapists go free, while the women keep getting punished over and over again for even speaking up??
My heart goes out to these women, who have to live in these countries with such extreme religion.

6:41PM PST on Dec 1, 2013

It's amazing this still exists in 2013. How sad.

4:25PM PST on Dec 1, 2013

Typical. And wrong.

3:35PM PST on Dec 1, 2013

I agree with you Janis K, just look at our own women's rights - how long did it take before we got the right to vote, and our wages still do not equal that of a mans. things that have been excepted by society from generation, after generation, after generation, will take generations to change as well.

3:23PM PST on Dec 1, 2013

Why is it okay to be a rapist, but it is an offense to be a victim of rape?

1:08PM PST on Dec 1, 2013

Meant to say Wars not War :/

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches and writes about ancient Greek and Latin and is Online Advocacy and Marketing... more
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