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2014 | HRW Report: Here Rape is Normal

Sexual violence is pervasive in much of Somalia. Two decades of civil conflict and statec ollapse have created a large population of displaced persons and other people vulnerable to sexual violence. At the same time it has destroyed the state institutions that are supposed to protect those most at risk. Armed assailants, including members of state security forces, operating with complete impunity, sexually assault, rape, beat, shoot, and stab women and girls inside camps for the displaced and as they walk to market, tend to their fields, or forage for firewood.

 Many victims will not report rape and sexual assault because they lack confidence in the justice system, are unaware of available health and justice services or cannot access them. They are further constrained by the fear of reprisals and stigma associated with reporting rape. According to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), about one-third of victims of sexual violence in Somalia are children.

In this report Human Rights Watch documents women’s experiences of sexual violence since the 2012 inauguration of the new Federal Government of Somalia. The report covers women’s experiences in Mogadishu and the surrounding Benadir district, areas where the government has some control and where the government and international agencies are investing significant resources in improving security and rebuilding government institutions, including the judiciary and health services.

While President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud came to power promising to prioritize security and justice, in reality little has been done to address the problem of rape and sexual assault of women and girls, particularly among the vulnerable displaced communities.