Mogadishu (UM) – The evil rape and murder of 12 year old Aisha Ilyas Adan in Galkacyo is sickening. The Somali people are outraged and girls and women feel unsafe. Whoever committed this evil and heinous crime must be brought to justice. There are no words that can describe the pain and cruelty young Aisha suffered at the hands of her murderous and the Somali people must pray for her and wish for Allah SWT to have mercy on her soul. Hearing the desperate cries of the women of Galkacyo, it is clear that Aisha was not the first and will not be the last victim of rape and murder in Somalia at the hands of monstrous criminals. Rape is the worst of crimes and the criminals who commit it must never be allowed to get away with it.
Somalia has a justice deficit. There is no reliable form of justice that the people can rely on today. This is leading to impunity and where criminals are caught retribution or out of court settlements whereby elders exchange money for the lives of the victims. This is no justice because the criminals are then free to hurt the public again. Somalia has become a dark hole of cruelty towards vulnerable groups including children, women and the disabled. Even as more mosques are built and the government scream Justice and progress, the suffering of the people increases. It is sad that only a few weeks ago money was spent on a National Justice Conference in Mogadishu which achieved little other than be a platform for pointless speeches. The Prime Minister continues to say that his government will tackle corruption and improve access to justice: well now he has a chance in the case of Aisha. He must instruct the Minister of Security and the Puntland authorities to use every police power and tools to find the murderers and put them through the national justice system. The police should not care about clan honour, or out of court settlements between greedy elders who only want to be paid through the usual ineffective customary laws known as “Xeer.” The ‘Xeer’ legal mechanism in the form of clan compensation is not fit for purpose and as a result, women have little faith in the local police nor have trust in the country’s justice system in delivering justice for them. The government should prove to the world that Somalia is a place of laws. Victims and communities must be protected from criminals and mindless violence. If the government cannot do this, there is a real risk the people could once again take the law into their own hands.
Sadly, Somali girls and women need protection from their society as is the case with Aisha and others. In many cases, families will keep quiet about rape for family honour and therefore settle for a payment which the girls and women never benefit from. This payment for silence and to avoid society’s stigmatization must be overcome with robust laws. Rape is a crime; there is no question about this! All forms of sexual violence must be confronted by the government through strict laws which are enforceable fairly in courts. The international community must also stop the lobbying for headline grabbing policies like 30% of women in Parliament and support the creation of systems that will help make this sustainable. Aisha’s horrific ordeal that violently robbed her of her short life should not be used as propaganda or for moral outrage that will be forgotten tomorrow; it should be the beginning of the end for impunity for sexual violence and child abuse in Somalia.