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Amnesty: SexualViolence Endemicin SomaliaDisplaced Somali womenand girls are especiallyvulnerable to sexualassault.Friday, August 30, 2013Amnesty International saidtwo decades of conflicthave allowed sexualviolence to becomeendemic in Somalia. Thehuman rights group saysmost victims don’t reportthe attacks to authorities,fearing stigma.Amnesty says rape andsexual violence are aconstant threat in Somalia,especially for displacedwomen and girls. SeniorCrisis Adviser DonatellaRovera said researchersspoke with dozens ofvictims, one as young as13, in Mogadishu and incamps for the displaced.“Obviously, thehumanitarian conditionsare terrible and the lack ofsecurity is very prevalent.And this is a particularproblem for women andgirls because they are verymuch exposed to rape andsexual violence,” she said.The United Nationsreported in 2012 therewere at least 1700 cases ofrape in Somali settlementsfor internally displacedpeople . At least 70 percentof the attacks, it said, werecarried out by armed menwearing governmentuniforms.“Perpetrators are veryrarely brought to justice.Victims of these attacksare then stigmatizedwithin Somali society. Sothe combination of the fearof the stigmatization andthe lack of confidence thatreporting their case wouldlead to any justice meansthat in the majority ofcases the victims don’teven report the cases tothe police,” said Rovera.She said that police “donot have the capacity northe political will” toprovide the protectionneeded to prevent suchattacks – or to bring thoseresponsible to justice.Many of the women whowere attacked live inmake-shift shelters, withjust a piece of plastic for adoor. There’s noprotection from rapists,who usually attack in thenight. She told the story ofone woman, who has fourchildren and wasabandoned by herhusband.“She told me that she wasasleep in her little shelterwhen a man came in. Hehad a knife. It was night.She kept quiet because hethreatened to kill her. Thechildren were sleepingnext to her. He raped herand then he went away.And she told me that shehad not told anybodybecause she was afraidthat if she spoke to theneighbors about what hadhappened to her theywould just laugh at her orsay bad things about her.”Amnesty International’ssenior crisis adviser said alot “can and must bedone” to solve theproblem. She admitted it’svery difficult because thegovernment controls onlypart of the country. Manyother areas are controlledby armed groups andmilitias, such as alShabab.“But certainly wheregovernment forces arepresent, it is crucial thatthey take concretemeasures to first of all toensure security – andnotably, if we talk aboutthe IDP camps, the campsfor displaced people, wheremost of the rapes andsexual violence occur. Andsecondly, more needs to bedone to follow up on thosecases, which are reported,”she said.Rovera said, “The inabilityand unwillingness ofSomali authorities toinvestigate these crimes –and bring the attackers tojustice – leaves survivorsof sexual violence evenmore isolated.” She added,it also contributes to a“climate of impunity inwhich attackers know theycan get away with thesecrimes.”

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