Somalia

Background

Since the 1990s, Somalia has witnessed a long lasting civil war and still has not found its way into stability. The normalization of violence coupled with deeply-rooted gender discriminatory norms and growing frustrations have resulted in the escalation of violence against women with incidents of rape and sexual assaults reaching alarming levels. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and forced/early marriage are still rife and are frequently assumed by communities to be essential aspects of Islam.  Displaced populations are at a particular high risk of abuse and violence committed against them. Furthermore the access for humanitarian organizations remains limited through, continuing fighting, insecurity and restrictions imposed by parties to the conflict.

Legal Framework

In Somalia’s patriarchal and clan-based society, men occupy positions of dominance and authority and are often positioned such that they can protect against, permit or perpetrate abuse. The lack of a formal legal framework combined with customary law, Shari’a law and statutory law ensures SGBV survivors do not have access to justice. Many survivors of violence are afraid to report due to the fear of reprisals and the fact that survivors can be criminalized as rape is still seen as adultery.

Our work in Somalia

Strengthening women’s access to justice and transforming negative and harmful religious and cultural dogma

“Standing together – engaging men in preventing and combating sexual violence in Somalia”
Through the engagement of men, SIHA’ focuses on challenging militant Islamic ideologies and the patriarchal structures that currently subjugate women making them vulnerable to direct violence. Understanding men’s role in Somali’s clan based society, SIHA in collaboration with its partner organization Somali Women Development Centre conducted trainings on women and gender roles, as well as on leadership and community facilitation.

Strengthening women’s access to justice and transforming negative and harmful religious and cultural dogma

SIHA’s work focused on  the economic empowerment of female street vendors. Female street vendors are particularly at risk of being subjected to SGBV and though their employment in the informal sector has few labor rights. In collaboration with its member organization IDPO, SIHA initiated a project to raise awareness and promote rights for street vendors in Mogadishu.

Peaceful Coexistence

SIHA and its member organization COGWO organized a peace campaign in the Benadir region. The campaign included workshops to develop radio programs on peace and reconciliation issues and involved peace activists, women groups, intellectuals and moderate religious leaders.

Research, Civil Society Capacity Building and Advocacy

SIHA has conducted extensive research on Somalia from 2010 up to date and has conducted trainings and courses on capacity building of local civil society organizations, to work increase their organizational capacity in the complex working environment of Somalia.

Partner Organizations and Locations of Work

SIHA has been working all across Somalia, together with its 9 member organizations, as for example the Iniskoy Peace and Democracy Organization (IPDO), the Community Organization for Relief and Development (CORD), the Somali Women Development Center (SWDC) and the Somali Community Care (SOCOCA).

Publications

  • “Manual on Working with Men” aims at identifying perspectives on including men, which challenge religious, political and cultural traditions that subordinate and dehumanize women in Somalia.
  • “Women in the Horn of Africa Are Still Bending their Heads”, is a series of reports to the 51st, 52nd, 53rd Sessions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights, including reports on Somalia and the human rights abuses caused by conflict and Islamic militancy, the rise of sexual violence incidents and the immunity and institutionalization of violence against women.
  • “Negotiating Patriarchy: Men as allies against violence against women”: This newly released SIHA publication was developed primarily as a guide for social activists involved in challenging gender inequality in the Horn of Africa. This 36-page guide promotes connecting with men as an essential approach towards addressing violence against women and emphasizes the importance of their involvement.

Download SIHA country profile Somalia PDF