Rape Cases Soaring in Somalia Displacement Camps

Gender activists are arguing that internally displaced women (IDP’s) are increasingly becoming a target for rape in central Somalia.

Famine, lawlessness, corruption, impunity, and crisis are leading to an increasing number of women being attacked and raped in Somalia’s ever-expanding displacement camps.

Displaced women are at risk as they live in camps that provide them little to no security, while lawlessness reigns in the war-torn country.

A gender-based violence specialist with the United Nations Population Fund told IRIN news agency, “Attacks on women have gone up dramatically in the last two months and the severity of the attacks has become worse.”

Authorities say clashes in central Somalia that have caused families to flee for safety and the lack of security are responsible for creating an environment where IDP's are frequent and gangs of violent men can flourish.

However, activists also argue that the culture of impunity is to blame for the surge in rape cases.

Hawo Yusuf Ahmed, an activist working in Somalia told IRIN that rape cases in central Somalia have soared since last year.

Ahmed said, “In my estimation rape cases have gone up twice what they were in 2010. Last year, you would hear of a rape case maybe once every two weeks. Now you hear of rape cases every three to four days.”

With crisis and famine impacting the Horn of Africa, Kenya has also been home to increasing violence and exploitation against women. Many of the victims come from Somalia as scores of vulnerable people have fled across the border escaping drought, famine, conflict, and extremism.

Jean-Phillipe Chauzy, the head of communications at the International Organization for Migration has expressed his concern for people fleeing to Kenya.

Chauzy told The Guardian, “As of 28 September there were more than 452,000 refugees, mostly Somalis, at Dadaab camp. The huge influx of refugees has complicated the movement of people in the region; it has increased the vulnerability of people to trafficking, smuggling and other forms of exploitation.”

Thus, the question emerges, if women are not safe in Somalia and continue to remain insecure when they flee to Kenya, where can Somali women be safe?