News / Africa

UN Denounces 'Privatization' of Violence Against Somali Women

Asha and Muna wait for assistance outside the UNHCR office in Galkayo town. Muna , is sleeping on the floor because she could not withstand the pain in her thigh. She was stabbed by a rapist on Nov. 26 2010.
Asha and Muna wait for assistance outside the UNHCR office in Galkayo town. Muna , is sleeping on the floor because she could not withstand the pain in her thigh. She was stabbed by a rapist on Nov. 26 2010.

The United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women Rashida Manjoo spoke to reporters in Nairobi Friday about her just-concluded mission to Somalia, where she examined the occurrence of gender-based violence there.  

One of the things that struck Manjoo during her 10-day mission was what she called the “privatization” of violence against women and girls in the wider Somali society.

She noted that a lot of attention has been paid to sexual violence occurring within camps for the internally displaced.

UN Special Rapporteur for Violence Against Women, Rashida Manjoo
UN Special Rapporteur for Violence Against Women, Rashida Manjoo

“But I also know there is rape going on outside the IDP camps in the host communities," Manjoo said. "There might be a culture of silence and denial about it, but it is going on.  Domestic violence is going on.  I think the challenge is, how do we break silence, how do we move away from denial that there is a problem?”

In the rush to publicize the latest political and military machinations of the 20-year-old civil war, Manjoo said most media, agencies, governments and others ignore the lives of women behind closed doors.

For instance, she cited one study that estimates that 98 percent of Somali girls and women undergo female genital mutilation - a cultural practice being increasingly banned across Africa - in the mistaken belief that it is a religious requirement.

Other cultural and traditional beliefs facilitate or even encourage physical, emotional, and sexual violence against women and girls in homes in Somalia and around the world.

But, Manjoo said, in a volatile country where infrastructure and functioning state institutions basically do not exist, finding out the nature and prevalence of different forms of gender-based violence is daunting.

“The Somali government will need data, will need information in terms of its priorities when it comes to laws and policies and programs," she noted. "In the absence of that, how will they develop laws, policies, and programs?  How will they know what they need?”

She added that Somali authorities have taken some measures, such as a draft law against female genital mutilation in the Puntland region, the creation of a task force on gender-based violence by the transitional government, and the appointment of women as ministers and members of parliament.

She said the government and other national and international agencies have a long way to go in assisting women and girls experiencing violence, or even giving them a safe forum in which to express themselves.

Manjoo said the lack of attention being paid to domestic violence, rape, female genital mutilation, and other forms of gender-based violence occurring in homes has lead to impunity, which only perpetuates the problem.

“Let me stress that the current manifestations of violence against women and girls is a violation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women.  Somalia has the opportunity at this crucial time to promote human rights for all, and importantly to place the issue of violence against women on the national agenda,” she said.

Manjoo's Somalia tour ran from December 9 -16 and included consultations with officials from the transitional government, U.N. agencies, international aid groups, African Union peacekeeping troops, and civil society groups.

She is expected to present her findings in a report set to be released in June 2012 to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

You May Like

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Video Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs