Bush’s allies rape Somali women

This video says about itself:

Poetic Protest by Somali Women

Somali women voice their anger and opposition to the Ethiopian Invasion of their country in Baraanbur, a very stylish, rich and unique poetry. They also raised money for the Mogadishu Massacre victims.

Nada Ali is the Africa Women’s Rights Researcher at Human Rights Watch. Human Rights Watch is an organization which might arguably be accused of too many rather than too little ties to, and sympathy for, the government and the establishment in the United States.

Still, what Nada Ali writes in Pambazuka News is damning for the puppet regime in the Somali capital Mogadishu, and for the Ethiopian military dictatorship of Meles Zenawi. These are both allies of George W. Bush in the terrible, but too often forgotten, war in Somalia:

Somalia: And What About Women?

Nada Ali

11 December 2008


With examples of the considerable risk of sexual violence faced by Somali women from a range of military organisations including the Somali Transitional Government, Ethiopian troops, and local militias, Nada Ali argues that much more needs to be done to ensure that those vulnerable within some of the African continent’s most conflict-torn areas receive adequate protection from abuse. The UN Security Council’s formation of an international commission of inquiry focussing on sexual violence, Ali argues, represents a key step if perpetrators are to begin to be effectively held to account.

‘They broke into the house and I panicked and ran and took shelter under the bed,’ said 15 year-old Malka (not her real name), describing the day the Somali Transitional Government forces came to her house. ‘I came out from under the bed and tried to escape but…I was hit from behind with the butt of a gun… I last remember a man holding my neck as another climbed on top of my body. I woke up to yelling and the cries of my mother…I was not taken to hospital because of the fear of stigma by my mother… I have been robbed of the only thing of value a woman possesses. I feel a reject now.’

The 16 days of activism against gender violence between the International Day Against Violence Against Women and 10 December, International Human Rights Day (which will mark the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), should be opportunities to highlight the achievements of the African and international women’s and human rights movements, such as the United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security and this year’s Security Council resolution on sexual violence in conflict situations.

Unfortunately, though, urgency demands that we turn our attention to the horrific violence against women in conflicts going on right now around the African continent. One such situation, shamefully ignored by the international media and policy makers, is the brutal armed conflict in Somalia. Escalating fighting between Ethiopian and Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces on the one side, and insurgent groups on the other, has had a drastic effect on women and girls like Malka who face rape and other forms of sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) and limited or no access to essential healthcare or justice.

Since early 2007 hundreds of thousands of Somalis, including women and girls, have fled their homes in Mogadishu and other locations in fear of their lives. But Somali women also face the risk of rape and other SGBV at the hands of Ethiopian troops, Somali transitional government forces, and unidentified militias who take advantage of the growing lawlessness.

There is increasing evidence of a high prevalence of SGBV in south-central Somalia, despite the stigma and silence that usually surrounds rape and sexual assault. However, the voices of the victims and survivors themselves speak loudest. Their stories tell of violations by all sides. A teenage girl who was kidnapped by unidentified militiamen in Mogadishu told Human Rights Watch researchers in July: ‘[One of the kidnappers] held me by the neck and covered my mouth. I could not breathe. He repeatedly raped me. After a while the other one joined him. The first one raped me for more than an hour while the others were outside playing music in the car. Then they later joined to rape me in turns, including the driver. They raped me up to late evening. I bled profusely.’

A young man told Human Rights Watch that Ethiopian soldiers raped his mother and sisters in Mogadishu following fighting between the transitional government forces and insurgent groups: ‘Some Ethiopians and government soldiers came to our house… The Ethiopians came in one by one and started raping [my sisters] and I was sitting there helpless.’

These women and girls have little access either to essential healthcare or to justice. Where could Malka turn after her attack if she had been ready to report it since the attackers were government forces?

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