By Tesfa-Alem Tekle-
Somalilandsun – A 15-year old girl was gang-raped in the war-torn Somalia last week by two unidentified armed attackers, according civil society organizations in Somalia.
Iqra Osman Mohamed was raped after the attackers forced her off a mini-bus taxi as she was returning to her residence after visiting her sick sister at a hospital in Mogadishu.
The rapists who are said to be the taxi driver and his assistant threatened her with a knife not to scream shortly after the car started moving.
“If you try to scream, we will stab you – come with us” the assistant warned her and was then taken to a nearby abandoned building where she was raped by both men, according to Somali Women Development Centre (SWDC) where Iqra is currently receiving psychosocial support.
After the incident, SWDC which is a member agency of Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA) took the case to a Criminal Investigation Department (CID) via its paralegal however the police officer in charge of the police station undermined the case and has allegedly refused to file the complaint.
According to SWDC the police officer accused the civil society organizations (SWDC and SIHA) of making money out of fabricated allegations.
“After an argument between the police officer and the paralegal, who was accompanied by Iqra and her mother, the police ordered the arrest of both SWDC staff as well as the mother of the victim”
Iqra was studying in the teacher training program at Mogadishu University after she was granted a scholarship in January this year.
SWDC and SIHA have strongly condemn the practice in Somalia where victims of rape and those supporting them including parents and relatives are criminalized, harassed, and humiliated, often at the hands of police and authorities.
The two organizations appealed for justice over Iqra’s case who despite surviving her rape, is facing stigma and discrimination from her community as well as her class-mates.
“The perpetrators need to be brought to justice for Iqra to feel safe again and to continue her studies in a country plagued by trends of non-education of women and lack of educational opportunity”.
The Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA) is a regional network comprising over 80 women’s civil society organizations from across the Horn countries inclusive of Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, Somaliland, Eritrea and Uganda.
The organization undertakes advocacy on women’s human rights protects women’s human rights and access to justice.
It also tackles gender-based violence and works on activating women’s political participation, capacity-building, and supporting economic empowerment.