Two rapists found guilty of gang-raping and murdering a 12-year old girl were publicly executed on 11th February in Somalia. The perpetrators – Abdifatah Warsame and Abdishakur Mohamed were both shot at Bossasso town square in the Northern Coast. The rapists were convicted and sentenced to death in May 2019.
Despite an appeal, the conviction was upheld in June 2019. The two men abducted the 12-year-old girl, Aisha Aden in Galkayo town in February 2019. They then went on to gang-rape her and later strangled her to death. Her body was found the next day close to their home with her genitals mutilated. This sparked an uproar within the Somali online community who incited a movement through the hashtag JusticeforAisha.
Somalia’s history with sexual violence
Sexual violence has been and remains a thorn in the side of many countries. As a result, various groups across the globe have been lobbying for aggressive measures to curb this crime. Somalia is one of the countries that have in the recent past embraced this. In 2016 Somalia passed their first sexual offences law. As a result 5 rapists were sentenced to death for gang-raping a girl in 2017. This however hasn’t atoned for the numerous crimes that were not acted upon. This is especially so in Puntland where some women have even been forced to marry their assailants.
The death penalty has drawn mixed reactions even among leaders of women’s rights group. This was highlighted by the leader of the Galkayo Centre for Peace and Development. In a statement she went on to say, “While we do not support the death penalty, we believe that this will send the strongest message that violence against women will not be tolerated”. The government however seems to be fully on board with this mode of punishment. This was made clear by Awil Hamid in a statement to the press. The justice minister went on to say, “This is a clear indication that justice is served in Puntland”