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The dark side of famine crisis in Somalia

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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.

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Feedback /Comments on this article
Blind crime!!!

The cases of the somali women situation is devastating and horrible!! But what is happening with the responsiblity of the international Organisations based in Nairobi ! Why can't they help and demand the Kenyan goverment to open a sponsered court for such cases? Because if murderers are transfered to kenyan prisons and courts! Why not criminls of rape cases?

Posted By: Issa
Dated: Saturday, October 15, 2011

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Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

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