Voices Somalia - A Qualitative Assessment, September 2021


Summary of Findings

Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) conducted in 2021 identified that sexual violence, including FGM/C and sexual harassment; domestic violence; early/forced marriage; and sexual exploitation of women and girls, constitute major GBV risks in Somalia and Somaliland. Women, girls, boys and men have indicated that GBV occurs everywhere: in homes, at schools, at work, in the market, on public transportation and on the streets. The fear of sexual violence is a concern raised by women and girls contributing to psychosocial distress. Some forms of violence identified in this publication may come across as new to some GBV actors, including forced abortion and cyber bulling. Women and girls are subjected to cyber bulling via photos and videos on social media. A community and religious leader from Gaalkacayo district, Mudug region, Galmudug state explained that “there are lots of violations and abuses, such as recording sexual videos and then using them to blackmail girls and women”. Furthermore, adolescent girls are forced into early marriage by parents, due to poverty and food insecurity. As expressed by an adolescent boy from Daynille district, Banadir region, Hirshabelle state: “hunger and poverty are the cause of early and forced marriages as families seek dowry payment to try and reduce their food bills”. However, the girl is often wed to a man who is much older than her or just not of her choice, which may increase her vulnerability to GBV. A community and religious leader from Baletweyn district, Hiraan region, Hirshabelle recounted that “girls face forced marriage to elder persons. The girls are forced to marry elderly men who they do not like. It is a decision reached by her parents and girls cannot refuse because they risk being beaten up”.

General Protection, Child Protection, Mine Action and Other Humanitarian Clusters. Community FGD participants expressed concerns related to protection measures employed by parents and families, such as movement restrictions and travelling with a male relative. A man from Garowe district, Nugaal region, Puntland gave the following account: “women and children can’t travel alone unless they travel with males guarding them to be safe and sound”. FGD participants listed COVID-19 prohibitions and insecurity as further reasons for the employed movement restrictions. FGD participants noted that movement restrictions are often necessary, since arbitrary arrests or detentions, sexual violence and harassment of women and girls at checkpoints are common occurrences.