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Save the Children Urges End to Violence Following Rape of 13-Year-Old Girl in Somalia Displacement Camp

Save the Children is calling for increased protection of girls in Somalia after a 13-year-old girl was raped by a group of armed men outside her home last Sunday, 18 February. The child was pulled from her home and attacked by multiple men, according to reports by the local community and media.

The child rights agency is calling for a full and transparent investigation of the attack, and calling on the government of Puntland and Somalia to urgently take measures to prevent sexual violence, protect survivors, and prosecute perpetrators in line with national and international human rights obligations.

Save the Children’s teams in Puntland have received increasing anecdotal reports of sexual abuse and rape against teenage girls in recent months, with survivors afraid of making official reports to authorities for fear of retaliation and stigma.

Somalia has some of the highest rates of violence against women and girls in the world, with few laws to protect women and girls from sexual and domestic violence or available shelters where they can seek refuge from their aggressors.

Earlier this month, the deaths of three women in one week, all allegedly murdered by their husbands, caused outrage in Somalia and sparked days of protests over the country’s track record on protecting women and girls. In 2021, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) documented an alarming 80% increase in sexual violence in Somalia primarily attributed to armed men.

Save the Children’s Acting Country Director for Somalia, Mohamed Abdiladif said:

“The persistent sexual violence against Somalia’s most vulnerable women and children is deplorable and a grave violation of human rights. The traumatic rape of this young, displaced girl is unfortunately indicative of a wider trend that we at Save the Children are witnessing through our work across communities in Somalia. Gender-based violence continues to be pervasive, particularly affecting displaced, rural and minority women and girls who face added risks amidst conflict and insecurity.

“We urge the Puntland Government of Somalia to strengthen legal protections for children, including the enforcement of a sexual offences bill. Every child, no matter where they live, deserves to live a safe, happy and healthy life, free from violence.”

“Save the Children reiterates our commitment to protecting Somalia’s most vulnerable people. We stand ready to support national and local partners in strengthening prevention and response efforts surrounding conflict-related sexual violence. No child should have to endure such unspeakable brutality.

Save the Children has worked in Somalia for over 70 years, since 1951, and is running child protection programs in the camps for displaced people providing specialised psychological care for sexual assault survivors through mental health and psychosocial support, hospital and specialist referrals, and hosting awareness-raising activities about children’s rights and abuse.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Save the Children.

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