In a horrifying attack in Galkayo – Central Somalia (Puntland), Aisha Ilyas Adan aged 12 years old went missing on Sunday 24th February, 2019 – for less than 24 hours and was discovered to have been brutally raped, tortured and mutilated. Her body was found near her house on Monday morning, a few meters away from her home.
Over the span of two days after discovering Aisha’s body, residents of Galkayo have taken to the streets protesting for the authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice. Although several suspects have been arrested, this callous killing of Aisha has sparked huge public outcry in the region and beyond following a trend of targeted civilian gendered killings across Somalia.
To place emphasis on the gravity of this matter, one of SIHA’s member organizations in Puntland, the Community Organization for Relief and Development (CORD) – in a press statement published early this week also upheld that thorough investigations should be undertaken to realize justice for Aisha.
Cognizant of the fact that the Puntland Parliament in August 2016 passed a law criminalizing all sexual offences in the Puntland State of Somalia and the approval of the Sexual Offences Bill by the Somali cabinet came through in May 2018, SIHA emphasizes that the Somalia and Puntland governments must fundamentally develop procedures towards ending sexual violence and address the spread of misogyny as a result of militancy and war polarization. It is clear that the culture of impunity has previously been cited as one of the main motivations for the rising levels of gang rape cases – also related to legal pluralism particularly clan intervention in the statutory system. It is also crucial that the perpetrators of these crimes are publicly identified and persecuted to deter the violations from re-occurring.
Over and above that, women rights NGOs need to be enabled to have and claim the space to publicly denounce sexual violence through civil actions against brutality. It is apparent that the attacks against women and girls across Somalia are the remnants of conflict in the nation. Although such attacks spread fear among communities, there should be no setback in regard to how women’s contributions are viewed and how important it is to continue capitalizing on their potentials, chances and opportunities.
Now more than ever, women and girls’ collective voice should not be silenced.
For more reading:
– SIHA has published a research paper – The Other War: Gang Rape in Somaliland, it underscoring that the resumption of spiraling gang rape and the accompanying victimization of women and girls warrant attention and analysis speaking to the deep trauma and polarization.
– The approval of the Sexual Offences Bill by the Somali cabinet in May 2018 was seen as a landmark victory despite the country facing violent extremism, on-going droughts and adherence to unbreakable traditional norms that often side-line women in general and victims of sexual violence in particular.