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Rights group urges release of jailed Somali rape victim and journalist


By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

November 24, 2013 (ADDIS ABABA) – An East African women’s rights group has called on Somali authorities to immediately release a jailed rape victim and a journalist who covered her story.

Mohammed Bashir, who works for Somalia’s independent Radio Shabelle station, was arrested on Wednesday shortly after the story of the rape victim was aired

In the interview, the 19-year old who is also a journalist breaks her silence for the first time since the alleged incident four months ago, claiming was raped by two journalists working for the state-owned radio station.

“One of the men threatened me with a pistol, and took me to the bedroom by force. Both of them raped me several times, destroying my pride and dignity”, she said.

“I am appealing to the government to take legal action against the rapists, they might have done the same to other poor girls”, she added.

Police said the alleged rape victim and the journalist were arrested on the basis of covering a fabricated rape story.

In statement extended to Sudan Tribune, regional rights group Strategic Initiatives for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA) called for the immediate and unconditional release of the rape victim and the journalist.

SIHA also called for a full and independent probe of the latest rape case, urging the international community, particularly major financial donors, to put pressure on the Somali government to free the pair.

The arrest of alleged rape victims and journalists reporting allegations of rape has become a frequent occurrence in Somalia, highlighting serious irregularities in Somalia’s judicial system.

The government of president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who was elected in September 2012, is the first to be recognised internationally since 1991.

In a similar case in February, a Somali journalist and an alleged rape victim were both sentenced to one-year prison terms, but were released two months later after the case drew sharp international criticism.

“This is a harsh remainder of the case [that] took place in early 2013 where a rape survivor and the journalist, Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim, suffered imprisonment at the hands of the Somali state for reporting sexual violence”, said SIHA’s regional director, Hala Alkarib.

“It’s alarming that the Somali government persist on exercising impunity for perpetrators and assuming that suppressing reporting of rape whilst criminalising victims and human rights defenders will somehow end rape in Somalia and make the problem go away”, she added.

In August, a Somali woman who was allegedly gang raped by African Union soldiers was also detained by the police after she openly sought justice.

Established in 1995 by a coalition of women’s groups, SIHA is a network of civil society organisations from Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Somaliland, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, and Uganda.

SIHA focuses in strengthening the capacities of women’s rights organisations and addressing violence against women in the volatile Horn of Africa.


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