My name is Laila and I’m a journalist. I recently wrote a story about a young woman brutally gang-raped by government soldiers in Somalia, hoping that her bravery in telling such a painful story would bring attention to the awful rape problem there. Instead, the government used my article to jail a rape victim and another journalist covering the story for ‘insulting the state’!
Rape is horrific, but to be raped when the only authorities you can turn to for justice are your rapists — it’s the most crushing powerlessness. But together I think we can bring her hope. That’s why I started a global petition on the Avaaz site, because Somalia’s government depends heavily on financing from other governments, so the international community can press them to stop the cover up and bring real reforms to end the epidemic of rape by security forces.
Our call for change could really work, but it needs to be big. UN envoy Zainab Bangura has told us that she will directly deliver our petition to donor countries and Somalia’s President. Help by signing and forwarding this email — let’s show these women that they’re not alone, and that no one has the authority to rape them:
The brave young woman was accused of fabricating her own rape by government officials before she even got a trial. Then, the judge refused to hear witnesses or accept medical evidence proving that she was raped. And she’s not alone: I’ve interviewed too many women who live in constant fear of getting shot or raped, often by the very people charged with protecting them.
But there is hope for Somalia like never before. In just 18 months, it has approved a new constitution, selected a new president, and is finally winning its war against extremists. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud is in a position to act to protect women from his own armed forces, if we together give him a big reason to crack down on this state violence.
This innocent rape survivor and Abdiaziz Abdinur, the journalist who spoke to her, are facing a year in jail! Funders hold the key to changing the way Somalia’s own soldiers and security forces treat women. Sign now and forward this email to help grow a call big enough to change Somalia forever:
The Avaaz community has fought courageously to stop the war on women across the world. Last month, more than 1 million of us signed a petition calling for justice and real change in India after the tragic death of a rape victim in Delhi, and received encouraging signs from top government ministers that they were heeding our call. Now, we can bring that people power to Somalia and set the country on a new course.
WIth hope and determination,
Laila Ali, with the Avaaz team
*Laila is a British-Somali journalist based in Nairobi