Maryan recounts how she survived sexual violence and her struggle to move on
Mogadishu - Maryan Ali (not her real name) reveals a stab wound scar on her right arm as she remembers the fateful day she was gang raped.
Maryan eked out a living working as a receptionist in one of the markets in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, and she had big dreams for herself. However, the crime turned her life upside down, leaving her shaken and disheartened.
“A man came and asked me to carry a basket. I did not know that it was a trap. When I reached an alley, with the basket balanced on my head, three men pounced on me. One of them stabbed me and I fell down. Then two of them descended on me,” she says as tears flow freely from her eyes.
As Maryan struggled to free herself from the assailants, one of the criminals slashed her with a knife and left her unconscious before disappearing into the night.
The 35-year-old woman was rescued and taken to a facility operated by Haweenka Horseedka Nabadda Iyo Nolosha (HINNA), a local non-governmental organization in Mogadishu which supports victims of gender violence.
According to Fadwa Hassan Jimale, the protection officer at HINNA, the centre supports at least 50 female survivors of sexual and gender-based violence every month, a clear proof of the enormous task Somalia has in tackling the vice.
Ms. Jimale observes that the centre provides both legal and medical aid to victims and helps them return to normal life. “We give them legal advice if they want and we support whoever is willing to pursue a case against their assailants,” she says.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) is working with other partners to raise awareness about the dangers of sexual and gender-based violence.
Noel Kututwa, a Women Protection Officer with UNSOM, says the Mission works closely with both the Federal Government and civil society to mitigate the effects of such violence through the provision of various services.
“UNSOM works with the Ministry of Women and Human Rights; Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Religious Affairs in order to build government institutions to address sexual violence,” notes Mr. Kututwa.
The UNSOM official observes that between January and March 2017, the gender-based violence sub-cluster partners reached a total of 17,353 beneficiaries with sexual and gender-based violence prevention response and capacity-building activities.