Rape and The Politics of Peacekeepings Somalia - Thought

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So this time last week, Human Rights Watch released the results of an investigation on the alleged rape of Somali women by AMISOM troops in Mogadishu. I was shocked, horrified and saddened by what the report revealed. However, what I found even more saddening was the response by young, seemingly intelligent Somali women. I read a lot of “well it has been happening for 20 years and suddenly it is an issue because its non Somalis doing it” to “I refuse to accept this outcry until Somalis acknowledge that this has been happening within our own community”.
Ok, well let me get on my soapbox.
1. I find it astonishing that the conversation has become about diaspora Somali men and their so called inability to accept that rape exists in our community. There is no doubt that this is a valid issue, but why is the issue of Somali women in Mogadishu being raped (by so called peace keeping troops) being used as a means to bash Somali men who are part of the diaspora? So Abdi from Harlesdan refuses to accept that rape is an issue, how does that help Halimo in Xamaar? She went to get medicine for her son but instead was raped by troops who then proceeded to throw a single 5 dollar bill at her. How does it help her get justice? Abdi obviously needs some form of education, but don’t use that to detract from what is really at stake here.
Yes, that is an issue that needs to be dealt with. But do not hijack the issues facing these women. This is a more pressing, time sensitive issue. We should be mobilising and uniting in our demands for justice. Why is unity so difficult for Somalis? Why are we always so fragmented? Currently, there is no hashtag to track the response (think #bringbackourgirls). Few have written formally about it. Is it because we have been taught to blame ourselves and our culture for absolutely everything and anything that goes wrong? We hold ourselves and our culture accountable rather than turning our focus on to the international bodies that these troops represent. We place blame on individuals rather than go after the big guys.
2. Its not about ethnicity, it does not matter that they are from other African countries. That is not the issue. Somali men who are fuming at the thought of foreign men raping Somali women you need to question yourself and your humanity, if that's all you can see. I’ll stop there, because like I said. This not about you. Its about the indirect state sponsored rape of innocent women.
3. We need to remember, AMISOM is an African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN) supported body. The AMISOM mission claims to “support the peace process”. I can't quite see how raping vulnerable women fits into that. Let's not forget the use of rations to sexually coerce and bribe the desperate and starving women who you claim to support. It is, by far, the most disgraceful, distasteful and soul crushing thing I think I have ever read, and as former student of History, I’ve read a lot of shocking things.
AMISOM, The AU and The UN need to be held responsible. They are international heavyweights. They are institutions that have standing and credibility. This isnt a militia who have run riot, these men are part of a legitimate force, consequently these organisations need to show accountability. Heads must roll. The AU, The UN and AMISOM itself need to openly condemn these actions. They need to bring these perpetrators to justice no matter how difficult the task may be. We need action. Those Somali men who collaborated and provided AMISOM troops with women to rape also need to feel the full weight of international law.
4. Where is the Somali government in all this? Yes, we’ve all seen the endless press conferences and photo opportunities that are intended to show that we are no longer a ‘failed state’. And that you are making ‘progress’ . If rape is endemic in Somali society, what are you doing about it Mr President? Will you continue to parade with AMISOM troops? Or will you take some action? Will you allow War Crimes to take place on your watch and with your tacit support? Or will those women like every other Somali remain weak, powerless and without a voice. Simply because we lack real, significant or credible representation? Will we remain anchorless in our own country?
In Somalia, rape has become the politics of peace keeping.
5. Let us use an analogy to bring it closer to home, totally fictional of course!
A police office goes to resolve a domestic conflict
Officer 41652 is wearing his uniform and flashes his badge.
He is on duty.
He is representing the police force.
While in the house, the officer rapes someone.
Would we deflect from the actual incident and focus on the “culture of violence” that existed in the house? Would conversations be about the fact that “this culture of violence” had existed for 20 years?
Surely we’d expect the police force to be held accountable? After all, Officer 41652 came as representative of their organisation.
Imagine Officer 41652 and several of his colleagues had been doing this to every family in the area, over a long period time.

Would our tweets and conversations be about changing the culture of the area or would we be protesting outside their headquarters? Would we be demanding accountability and getting it?
By, Ina Xassan (Stolen Voice) - 26


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