Like the rest of the world, Somali Women Development Center (SWDC) is commemorating the International Day for the elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict adopted by the United Nations in 2015. The commemoration of the Day is observed annually and it is the first time to be celebrated in Somalia.
Somali Women Development Center (SWDC) has been at the forefront in the fight against sexual violence in Somalia by ensuring prevention and response mechanisms for survivors of sexual abuse and violence, offering free legal aid counseling and representation to the survivors so that perpetrators of sexual violence could not go unpunished for their crimes and offences. As one of the prominent civil society organizations, SWDC has formed alliance and collaboration with both Various International organizations including the UN agencies and the government of Somalia, particularly the Ministry of Women and human rights and Ministry of Justice which as a result saw the development of Somali sexual Bill which is in the final stage to be ratified adopted in the country.
Sexual violence is a common place in Somalia as the country was hardly hit by conflicts and lawlessness that led to outbreak violence and abuses such sexual violence. There were 301 cases of sexual violence incidents recorded by SWDC in 2015 and 144 out of that were cases involving minors (Children).
SWDC organized different activities to commemorate and raise awareness about sexual violence to break silence of survivors, although some didn’t received any adequate support of medical, psychological or legal aid for their being silence or fear.
SWDC also conducted two sessions of Healing process of sexual violence survivors for the aim to give them a platform to explore opportunities and reintegration to speak and share their painful stories, although Reintegrating survivors is a complex and complicated process.
The participants were strong sense of solidarity in the session to share the placards carrying messages of support and encouragement such as ‘Stop sexual violence now’, ‘join the struggle to end sexual violence’, ‘with your support, we can end sexual violence’, and many more.
The commemoration of such day will play a pivotal role in eliminating of sexual violence which is flagrant and unacceptable human rights violation.
During Healing session some participants shares their opinion and stories, and will used different names (Not Real Names):
- “I don’t want to be just a survivor girl but my ambition to move forward to share my victories and my commitment to other survivors of sexual violence, in the future I want to be youth campaigner to end sexual violence” said a survivor of gang rape called Mariam of 22 years old.
- Nuroa aged 37 years lives in IDP Camp located in daynile she originally moved from Bula sheikh in Qoryoley district she narrated her experience in sexual violation she faced one of the fine days while on her usual duties such as cleaning, washing clothes, cleaning utensils so to get little earnings for the family. This is how she narrated. “It was early Jan I was sent message by a women who I used to clean the house, clothes for her immediately went there, as usual I started sorting out clothes and began cleaning, after I finished I was given the $5 for the services, then left for home on my way I met two young men they told me to clean the house, and clothes of which they will pay her good wage , I never knew it was a trap, however as soon as entered they locked the gated I asked why? but the reply was powerful slap I tried to defend myself but I was overpowered they both raped me forcefully and threw me out of the gate , I was help by good Samaritans and referred to SWDC center in Daynille district I was given complete medical services and healed well, I was told to turn several sessions to see my health improvement, when I remember I became traumatized and I feel fever and headache, but fortunately I recovered, am here to support other hidden survivors of SGBV. Since that I became very familiar with such type of incident in Mogadishu , I referred more than 10 SGBV survivors to SWDC family care centers as they do not know the way forward some were even provided with free legal presentation where the perpetrators were jailed. Am extremely happy today if such days are internationally marked to commemorate, to end sexual violence once again appreciate all those organized such event.”
- Halima is 27 years old survivor of gang rape and live with HIV virus after rape, “it’s almost 7 years live outside of my family’s care and support, I live alone in IDP camps, I lost my two parents at age of 11 years. When I lost my parents also gone my protectors, its going 7 years since I was raped and became HIV carrier. Am looking justice, but am still waiting justice! However I don’t know, how long I will wait justice, but I hope one day justice will help me”
During conclusion of commemoration there are recommendations came out:
- Immediate endorsement of the Sexual Offences Bill, the enactment of Laws and full implementation of the National Action Plan for the Prevention of Sexual Violence in Conflict to guarantee protection of children and women.
- Ensuring punishment of perpetrators, through criminal justice system. Survivors need equal Justice in the criminal justice system more than other services, and also they need friendship and emotional support.
- There are a lot of survivors of sexual violence in country, they recommend organizing and giving them a chance to speak and share their stories so live a normal life.
- Strengthening protection of internally displaced camps and establishing measures to protect women and girls in the camps to end sexual violence.