Somalia

Statement on responses to rape and sexual assault

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UNICEF is horrified and appalled by recent rapes against very young children in Somalia. These rapes, widely reported in the media, are mortifying to decent people everywhere. We sincerely hope that these inhumane acts, and the thousands of others that go unnoticed every year in Somalia, are the catalyst for change.

We implore politicians, religious, customary, male, female and youth leaders to take notice and mobilise your parliamentary representatives to bring the Sexual Offences Bill into law. The Sexual Offences Bill remains stagnated in parliament since September 2019.

We also remind everyone that survivors of rape and/or sexual offences, must be provided confidentiality and every effort should be made to ensure their anonymity is preserved. Confidential provision of services:

mitigates against future stigma and abuse for the survivor; allows survivors to make informed decisions about services without undue external pressure; allows service providers to focus their energies exclusively on the healing of the child and serving their best interests.

While our community is stunned by this abuse, it is essential to avoid circulating identifying information regarding survivors such as names, photographs, locations or ages in media. The best interests of the survivor, who has undergone the most horrifying and traumatic incident of her/his life, should be the only guiding principle in these matters. Life-saving care and support is the only priority in the days immediately following a rape incident.

We place our faith and trust in Somali’s trained and committed health and social work professionals who are working tirelessly to ensure the best possible outcomes for children who are abused in this heinous way.

We encourage everyone to show solidarity and support survivors of rape and sexual violence by coming together to enact the Sexual Offences Bill.

About UNICEF

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.

For more information, please contact:

Eva Hinds, UNICEF Somalia, ehinds@unicef.org.