Famine in Somalia is not only killing people by hunger, but there is another hidden side of the crisis—Rape. As hundreds of famished, weak and malnourished women and children move out of Somalia, the journey for many turns out to be a traumatic one.
Often poor Somali women are attacked by group of men, leading to molestation and rape. Women rarely talk about the mishap on the way, when they arrive at shelters. Instead, most register as refugees and undergo medical screening with their children. Then they are allocated a tent and basic household equipment.
Women here get settled in the tents provided to them still prefer keeping quiet about the violent incidents occurred to them. As reported by the IPS gender wire, Sinead Murray, the gender-based violence (GBV) programme manager for the International Rescue Committee (IRC) says that gender-based violence is a hidden side of the famine crisis. "As per the rapid assessment done on GBV in Dadaab, Kenya, released by the IRC in July, rape and sexual violence were mentioned as the most pressing concerns for women and girls while fleeing Somalia and as an ongoing, though lesser concern, in the camps," Murray told IPS.
The condition is so pathetic in this part of world that quite a lot of women are even raped in front of their family members, at the insistence of perpetrators described as 'men with guns.' Many others are molested and physically tortured.
Fear of rejection from family and social embarrassment often stop these women to report such incidents and seek justice. Not reporting the rape just adds to the suffering of the women.
So far, only 30 cases of rape were reported between January and July 2011 according to the UNHCR at Dadaab. But medical experts at the camp say that this is a small fraction of a huge problem faced by women.
Improper housing like no lockable doors, no windows makes women more vulnerable of such attacks. The camps do not have fences and at the same time women are not able to lock their shelters throughout the night. Anything can happen in the dark hours, reports IPS.
Amidst all the hunger and penurious condition, occurrence of such incidents certainly point towards the fact that vulnerability of women to exploitation remains very high and their perpetrators are not dealt with severely.