Somalia | 2023 | CBPF
Somalia, Kahda district. The worsening drought in Somalia has resulted in more vulnerability for women and girls.
Collecting water now involves longer walks that can be unsafe. More girls are dropping out of school, putting them at risk of early marriages. Parents who can no longer afford to pay for school fees are resorting to prioritizing boys over girls.
Recent reports have revealed alarming levels of sexual and gender-based violence in Somalia, primarily targeting women, girls, and marginalized groups. In 2022, the United Nations reported 340 cases of conflict-related sexual violence, primarily attributed to clan militias and Al-Shabaab: it’s likely to be an under-count of the actual levels of risk.
With support from the Somalia Humanitarian Fund, a Somali organization, Somali Community Concern, has created a GBV mobilization team. This mobile unit visits displacement sites to raise awareness of all forms of gender-based violence, and connect women and girls to further resources.
The team also refers women and girls to visit the Women and Girls Safe Space, which offers psychosocial support, clinical management of rape, case management, dignity and menstrual hygiene kits, unconditional cash support to GBV survivors, and connections to the justice system.
Preventing child marriage
In one case at Kahda displacement camp, the team met with a mother who was desperate to convince her husband to stop the pending marriage of their 13-year-old daughter. The mother was deeply concerned that her husband could not be convinced – after all, they were struggling to put food on the table, he claimed.
The support workers in the safe space engaged the community leader, a well-respected woman, and together they met with the father. They convinced him that allowing his child to marry was a mistake. For now, the girl is safe with her younger siblings.
“This programme has significantly revolutionized the delivery of SGBV services in Kahda camp. It is a great start, that I hope will culminate in desirable social change in times to come,” said the leader of the Women and Girls Safe space.