Soomal: Dispatches from a nomad: Schoolgirl raped by seven men, genitalia slit, body mutilated in Galkaayo, Somalia

12-year-old Aisha Ilyas Adan who was raped and murdered in Galkayo
12-year-old Aisha Ilyas Adan who was raped and murdered in Galkayo

The central city of Galkaayo is fast becoming the rape and murder capital of Somalia following a recent gruesome murder and rape incident of a 12-year-old schoolgirl Aisha Ilyas by seven shameless men

Galkaayo is the only city in Somalia with two mayors and it divides the federal states of Puntland in the north and Galmudug to the South. This sad incident happened in the north Puntland side.

Puntland side mayor of Galkaayo Yasin Abdisamad Cumar said the case came in the wake of another three rape cases of women in the same city, and the murder of for men in February alone. Puntland President Sicid Deni condemned the murder and rape of the teen and ordered security forces to bring to justice the perpetrators who are still at large.

Somalis from across the globe have strongly condemned and were moved by the heinous act. Women in Galkaayo took to the streets to protest against what they termed as increasing murder and rape of girls and women, with no perpetrator arrested or jailed.

RAPE AND MUTILATION

What shook people even more was how the seven men killed the girl after raping her. They allegedly first raped her in tandem and then went ahead to mutilate her body by gouging out an eye, cutting off an ear and worse, slicing off her genitalia. They then stabbed her severally. This was not an ordinary murder: It sounds like a sacrificial rite.

This sad news is the talk of the week amongst Somalis inside and outside the country. Online, the sad news is being condemned on Twitter under the trending hashtag #Justice4Aisha.

A look at the Tweets shared under the hashtag #Justice4Aisha shows anger and disappointment from Somalis. One woman threatened to go and shoot all men in Galkaayo because they behave like "animals". Another man described the incident as "appalling, horrific and atrocious act of indecency"

Rape cases are on the rise in Somalia.

It is a silent problem hugely affecting many women and girls and is rarely highlighted by the media, mainly because female victims fear speaking it out due to stigma.

Girl victims are made to believe they will not get married in life if they consent to have been raped and the incident is publicised. Even the girl's parents have the same mentality to protect their daughters from the shame associated with rape. This is one of the main reasons why rapists walk scot-free because they are not prosecuted.

Another problem blamed for the increased rape cases is the mediation role played by tradition elders. Rape cases are rarely prosecuted as the two families from the victim and perpetrator often agree to settle the matter outside the courts.

During those discussions, blood money is paid to the victim’s family with a share of the same proceeds also going to the elders as sitting allowance. No wonder elders often troop into a police station whenever they hear a suspected rapist has been arrested to release him because the

matter will be settled their way.

All these traditional taboos end up empowering rapists and killers because psychologically, they know the community or close family members will come to their rescue. This could actually be the reason rape and murder cases are the single biggest crimes in Somalia and continue unabated.

PROSECUTE RAPISTS, MURDERERS

But why is rape suddenly so high in Galkaayo or other Somali cities? We have to go back and see how the matter was addressed and why it was a rare act in the past.

Somalis were traditionally very reserved people. Rape was a very shameful act and very rare because people observed and respected traditional norms. Just like its encouraged by Islam, men and women were not allowed to freely mingle to reduce contact and the opposite sex appeal or urge, which is natural as human beings.

Urbanisation, pressure from foreign cultures imported from across the globe where Somalis live, increased drugs abuse and technological advances such as the world wide web or internet full of porn sites, is also blamed for the new weird gang because they are either high or simply think its cool and normal. The northern regions have the fewest cases of rape compared to the south because they still hold into their old cultures.

The government needs to enforce prosecution of rape cases to put rapists behind bars and defy the so-called elders accused of abating these heinous crimes by encouraging out-of-court settlements. Somalis must also cooperate with authorities and drop old taboos protecting rapists so as to bring them to justice.

As for murders who are found guilty, we should continue to treat them as required by Sharia law, kill them too.

This way, such crimes will reduce, because perpetrators will know they will face the full wrath of the law if they kill another person. Talk of an eye for an eye.