7TH NOVEMBER, 2017
On the fateful afternoon of Friday 27th October, in the southern district of Saakow, Habiba Ali Isaq, a 30 year old mother of eight children, was stoned to death for alleged adultery against her husband, Ali Ibrahim. According to her husband, Isaq was living in Hagar village in Jubbar with her children when she left her marital home to Mogadishu to visit relatives. Ibrahim claimed that his wife then got married to another man in a different village named Nus Duniya after disappearing for 18 days.
On a relative’s witness account to SIHA’s staff member; he confirmed that Habiba’s marriage had a lot of friction over lack of support to the family – a mandatory role according to the Family law of the country and to Islamic teachings. However, after several failed attempts to change the situation, Habiba’s family decided to advise and proceed with divorce arrangements against her husband’s will and acceptance. Nevertheless, Alshabab took the case to their own court and sentenced her to stoning after the final verdict.
‘The stoning emphasizes the continued suffering of Somali civilians in the name of dubious and militant views of Islamic traditions,’ says Hala Alkarib, Regional Director of the Strategic Initiative for women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA). Hala continues, ‘But the risks lie in the normalization of such an act, which is why it is crucial and important for the Somali governments and religious leaders to counter and stand against the practice of stoning politically and ideologically. It is not tolerable or acceptable that, in the 21st century, a decision to stone a person to death is still being made in any part of the world and within Muslim societies, despite accumulated knowledge of Islamic heritage which clearly rejects this act”.
Stoning is becoming a broader trend in Somalia which SIHA regularly confronts. This inhumane act follows an earlier similar event that took place in late May, when a group of Al Shabab militia stoned a 44 year old man to death in the town of Rama Addey for alleged adultery. Dhayow was found guilty of impregnating a woman outside of marriage. In October 2014, the same Al Shabab militia stoned to death Safia Ahmed Jimale, a 33-year old mother who struggled with mental illness.
The brutality of stoning acts carried out against Somali citizens should not be viewed as a practice which select groups feel compelled to carry out because of their religious affiliations, but rather as a criminal act by cliques who wish to employ violence as a means of intimidation and population control, resorting to such violence.
The Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA) is a network of civil society organizations from Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Somali-land, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Uganda and Kenya. Established in 1995 by a coalition of women’s rights activists with the aim of strengthening the capacities of women’s rights organizations and addressing women’s subordination and violence against women and girls in the Horn of Africa, SIHA’s network is comprised of close to 90 member organizations. SIHA and its members envision girls and women in the Horn of Africa with the right to live in a peaceful, just environment and the ability to exercise their equal rights as human beings. SIHA’s work with adolescent girls aims to address their overall subordination and exposure to violence, while investing in their potential and reducing their vulnerabilities.