Rape and other cases of sexual assault are one of many pressing issues facing Somalia since decades of civil war destroyed most social service structures.
The Somali government and African Union recently teamed up to offer a two-day training course for local women on how to defend themselves against rapists.
Twenty women working with displaced persons camps and women’s organizations met at the country’s capital, Mogadishu, where they were taught how to remain alert and protect themselves when attacked using various martial arts and self-defense moves.
Sexual violence is one of the most serious human rights challenges facing Somalia. According to the U.N., 1,700 cases of rape were registered with the group last year, with a majority occurring in Mogadishu.
Government soldiers and armed forces have been accused of carrying out widespread abuse, including rape, one of the many consequences of the civil war that ravaged Somalia for more than two decades.
Voice of America reports:
African Union Mission for Somalia Gender Officer Mane Ahmed said the training is important for women as they try to find a solution to sexual violence. She said the training will make men think twice before assaulting a woman sexually, because the project aims to train all women in the country.
“We also need to think of security of women in Mogadishu and in all other regions and to give them skills to defend themselves with some basic skills, and also giving them confidence they will be able to defend themselves, they will be able to defend their sisters. And men will also know that they cannot now just try to rape or attack a woman,” she explained.
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(Photo: AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)