30 August 2013

Somalia: Rape a Constant Threat for Somali Women, Amnesty International Says

Women and children living in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Somalia continue to face a high risk of rape and sexual violence, Amnesty International said in a report Friday (August 30th).

That conclusion was based upon dozens of interviews organisation researchers conducted with women and girls who said they felt at risk of sexual violence. Some of them, one as young as 13, had been recently raped.

The report said most victims of rape had not reported the crimes to the authorities because of they feared stigmatisation and had little confidence that anything would be done against the perpetrators.

"Many of the women we met live in shelters made of cloth and plastic sheeting which provide no security at all," said Amnesty International's senior crisis adviser Donatella Rovera. "In the context of the lawlessness which generally prevails in the country and the lack of security in these camps, it is hardly surprising that these horrific abuses are occurring."

According to the United Nations, there were at least 1,700 cases of rape in IDP settlements in 2012 in Somalia, with at least 70% of these being carried out by armed men wearing government uniforms. Nearly a third of the survivors are reported to be under the age of 18.

The Somali government and African Union Mission in Somalia forces have vowed to investigate accusations of rape. Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has also said on several occasions that rape and violence against women would not be tolerated.

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