Today on World Humanitarian Day, together with GCAP, we focus our attention on the Somali situation and the impact of poverty, famine and war on women, girls and their families, a dire situation that has triggered action on our part. We ask that you use this communique and the media release link as an advocacy tool with your partners and networks, pressuring governments and institutions, as well as forwarding to your networks. Please keep us updated on any and all efforts on this cause.
Feminist Task Force
19 AUGUST 2011
PLEASE CIRCULATE WIDELY
STOP RAPE IN SOMALI FAMINE ZONE
International Community Must Act NowFor the Press Release Please Click Here
The Global Call to Action Against Poverty and the Feminist Task Force of GCAP express their outrage and condemn in the strongest possible terms the violence being perpetrated against innocent Somali women and girls who are trying to escape famine and an outbreak of cholera and other diseases.Somali’s female refugees are undertaking heartbreaking journeys to leave behind an untenable existence at home, but then find themselves subjected to terror, rape and sexual harassment at the hands of marauding gangs and criminals. Male family members are also being terrorized; some have been even forced at gunpoint to rape their sisters and brothers’ wives.The Feminist Task Force and the Global Call to Action Against Poverty strongly urge domestic and international actors to take three actions as soon as possible:
According to the New York Times, “The worst famine in sixty years is devastating the Horn of Africa, particularly in Somalia where it is the most acute with UN estimates of 3.9 million people at risk of starvation in Somalia and as many as 12 million throughout the region. Some 29,000 Somali children are believed to have died in the last 90 days alone. The casualties will only grow without an urgent and generous international response.”
“Gendercide,” the killing of innocent women and girls, and violence against women has become the greatest challenge for humanity in the 21st century. Not only in Somalia and Africa, but in every corner of the world, in private homes and central plazas, in fields and the country-side, under the so-called protection of security forces and humanitarian care, women are being beaten, raped, harassed, tortured and denigrated by sub-human treatment. The situation is exacerbated by increased poverty and extreme famine, as is the case in Somalia. It is also perpetrated by moral and financial corruption on the part of government officials and institutions. Action by civil society is necessary to pressure governments, raise awareness and shine a spotlight on severe cases of violence against women.
The Feminist Task Force and the Global Call to Action Against Poverty urge women’s organizations and civil society partners to:
About the Feminist Task Force: The Feminist Task Force was established in March 2005 under the umbrella of the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) campaign and advocates placing gender equality at the center of poverty eradication.
About GCAP: The Global Call to Action Against Poverty challenges the structures and institutions that perpetuate poverty.
RECENT EXAMPLES OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IN SOMALIA AND KENYA
On their long journey from rural Somalia to Mogadishu or refugee camps in Kenya, Somali women are being subjected to rape and other forms of sexual harassment. They are attacked by marauding gangs and criminals who also rob them of food, water, money and other possessions before they can reach refugee camps.
1. After losing her kids she lost her honor
One 30-year-old woman who watched two of her five children die as they trekked through Somalia was raped after reaching what she hoped would be the safety of Kenyan soil. “I constantly ask myself, `would this have happened to you, or would you have lost your children if you had been in your country?'” said the woman. “My mind always says: `You ran away from a problem and ran into another.'”
2. Even the pregnant are not safe
A pregnant mother of three who spoke to AP in Dadaab said she was gang-raped by five men after a group of families traveling together was ambushed.
3. Brothers are forced to rape their sisters:
“The gunmen issued strange orders. They asked each woman to be raped by her brother. `Do it immediately,’ they ordered,” said a woman. “Some men are more audacious than others. When they were ordered to rape their sisters, they raped them to save their lives. … Death is better than doing that.”
The attackers ordered her brother-in-law to rape her but he refused, saying: “You are men and I’m a man, and life and death is in the hands of God. Either kill me or spare me.” They killed her brother-in-law and left his body unburied. “When they killed my brother-in-law, I wished they had killed both of us,” she said. “A lot of thoughts went through my mind after the rape: `It would have been better to have died at home than risked your life on the way. What have you gained? You only gained battering and robbery.’ Then another thought came to me, saying: `Don’t worry, this ordeal maybe is the last one.'”
“Kenya burdened by famine refugees; rape attacks up,” Associated Press, 9 August 2011