On the 8th August 2013, a 20 year old Somali woman was kidnapped close to her village in Yaqshid district, Mogadishu and brutally raped by AMISOM forces. The woman in question was initially approached by a group of five armed personnel, four men and one woman, in Somali government uniforms who claimed that she was being arrested for suspected involvement in terrorist activities.
She was informed she was being taken to the police station for investigation; instead she was taken directly to Maslah Military Camp which houses AMISOM troops in Hurwaa District. She was drugged and then raped by a number of men, understood to be members of the AMISOM forces. It is believed that the Somali's who initially arrested her did not participate in the rape itself, but served as intermediaries to bring her to the AMISOM troops. She was finally released on the 10th August after having been kept inside the barracks for nearly 2 days.
The Somali Women's Development Centre, based in Mogadishu, provided emergency response services to the woman with medical and psychosocial support and has instigated legal action. A medical report has also confirmed the injuries sustained by the woman in question is consistent with being raped multiple times. The woman however is now with a secondary organisation for further support.
It is understood that the Somali Military Court arrested two of the five persons connected with the initial kidnap of the woman, a Somali man and woman. The actual perpetrators of the gang rape are still to be arrested.
It is understood that the case is to be transferred to the Somali Police Force and that investigations are ongoing.
As yet, it is unknown what action is being taken against the perpetrators of the gang rape.
Additional information currently coming to light indicates that there may be further Somali women held inside the Maslah military camp who are being used for sexual purposes.
A spokesperson from the Somali Women's Development Centre stated that, "The recent gang rape of this young woman is one of the many brutal incidents of sexual violence women and girls in Somalia are facing on a daily basis. Irrespective of the wealth, status or nationality of the perpetrator, justice must be served and the Somali government should see to it that no perpetrator walks free."
Hala Alkarib, Regional Director of the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa stated that: "The United Nations and the African Union must address the repeated incidents of vulnerable Somali women being raped by AMISOM troops.
Sexual Violence and Impunity have been known within international military deployments for many years - this abuse should be stopped immediately and be addressed at the highest levels, both within the AU and the UN. There is no justification for military forces committing rape under any circumstances. Rape and enslavement are brutal crimes against which the international community must take concrete steps to address."
For more information, please contact Joanne Crouch at SIHA Network on +256 779 386 476 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Sexual violence has blighted the lives of Somali women with consistently high numbers being attacked both inside IDP camps in Mogadishu and in South Central Somalia. Perpetrators are frequently known to wear Somali government uniforms and although a number are part of the Somali government, many others form part of independent militias that have grown in the absence of a solid security structure in the capital.
According to the records of SWDC, rape has escalated dramatically since the inception of the 2011 famine and stayed consistently high, although has noted a particular increase in the previous three months.
Across all NGOs and women's associations in Mogadishu alone, around 20 incidents of sexual violence are reported every day, with around 30% being under the age of 18. Lack of awareness on how to access help, the prospect of stigma and fear of reprisals mean that the actual numbers of rape victims is likely to be substantially higher.
Redress against perpetrators has been limited and despite the Somali President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud condemning the widespread sexual violence and demanding the implementation of the death sentence, there has been limited implementation of justice.
Access to justice and arrest and prosecution of perpetrators has been hindered by threats and hostility towards sexual violence support workers and legal case workers. Similarly the weak statutory system has struggled to arrest perpetrators even when identified let alone successfully bring about prosecutions. In addition, women and their families who have reported sexual violence have been subjected to harassment, arrest and detention as well as threats against their families for seeking justice.
SWDC, through their sexual violence response unit have identified AMISOM involvement with a number of incidents of sexual violence though despite attempts at legal action, no prosecutions have thus far been successful.
In January 2013, in a high profile case, a woman who had been raped by government soldiers and an investigating journalist were both arrested and sentenced with defaming a government institution. They were released upon appeal; nonetheless the case highlighted the inadequacies of the current judicial system to deal with sexual violence with Navi Pillay, the head of UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights calling the prosecutions political2. Since then, SIHA and SWDC has identified further survivors and families who have been arrested and threatened for speaking up and seeking prosecutions against perpetrators of sexual violence.
AMISOM troops have been stationed in Somalia, predominantly in the Mogadishu area since 2007 where they have served to support the previous transitional federal government and the current Somali national government to attain stability and security in the face of armed opposition groups, most commonly, Al Shabaab.