Rape in Somalia

SOMALIA. In 2016 Somalia got their very first Sexual Offences Act which mean that rape is illegal now. Here in Sweden we got the first law against rape 1734 and the punishment was death which means that they are a bit behind us on the feministic agenda. But still many claim that there is no link between rapes and culture even though Somalia is one of the worst countries to be a woman in.

After two decades of civil war based on clan-based politics Somalias infrastructure is in ruins. Many live as refugees inside their country and many flee abroad. Sweden took in more than 66 000 Somalis in 2017 and there have been many refugees from there for several years before. In 2014 Human Rights Watch published a report about Somalia named Here, rape is normal! Well, there we have an indication on how Somali men view women and rape. It’s normal. Like doing a bit of gardening. Or cooking dinner.


During 2012 UNICEF and their partners helped 2,200 victims of sexual violence but this is just a fraction of all the rapes that occur. They estimate that 1/3 of the victims are children. Many doesn’t report being raped due to the stigma and ostracism, lack of trust in the police, fear of repraisal from the rapist or the authorities (and his clan?). Al-Shabab consider the rape victim who report her rape to be a criminal and the government have sentenced women to jail for reporting rape, claiming they lie. So the women, girls and boys don’t get the medical and psychological help they are in need of.

– In our camp when we saw someone, we used to say, ‘Hi, how are you.’ Now when we see each other we ask, ‘Were you raped today?’

In 2008 13-year-old Aisha were raped by three men and her family reported the crime. But Al-Shabab decided she had “chatted up” the men and commited adultery. She was beaten in front of 1 000 persons, half-buried in the ground and stoned. There were nurses present who checked if Aisha was alive when the men dug her up and when she was breathing the men put her back in the ground and continued to stone her. The by-standers tried to save her even though armed men monitored the event and even opened fire killing an eight-year-old boy. The leader of Al-Shabab apologised for the boys death. Not for Aishas.

The bajonettes are used to stab women during or after the rape

The fear of rape is a part of life. It can happen anywhere: at home, in the tent in a camp, on the way to the market, walking to the bathroom/outhouse, out tending the fields or picking fire wood. Everywhere men are waiting for a chance to attack women, girls and boys. It can happen in front of your family and they can’t do anything since the rapists often have weapons. One article stated that about 70% of the rapists wore a military uniform. Others say they are young men. There are gangs that guard the areas women use to reach refugee camps and then they rob and rape them. And their children.

Here we have a rape culture! This is what Somali men, teens and boys see as a normal way to interact with women and girls and this is the attitude they bring with them, consciously or unconsciously. When they meet our culture, which have evolved for hundreds of years towards female emancipation, and see our clothes or ways they probably see invitations. If you walk alone, if you drink, if you follow someone home just to hang out – you’re fair game. No wonder rapes increase here!


  1. This very well written and informative thank you for this! Its amazing to see that there are people who are willing to stand up and talk about this problem. If you don’t mind, I might use the information you referred to here too!


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