Somalia: Its 36 years imprisonment and 700 lashes for 5 teenagers in Galdogob gang rape case

Five teenagers who gang raped 2 girls and posted the pictures on social media in Galdogob Puntland Somalia have been sentenced to a cumulative 36 years imprisonment, 700 lashes and a fine of US$ 14,220.

A Sharia court seating in Galdogob town delivered the ruling Sunday 29th January 2017 after weeks of public outcry and tension on what action to be taken against the boys. The court comprising of 5 religious leaders ruled that Shirwac Jaamac Shire Geesood would serve 10 years in jail, receive 200 lashes as well as pay US$ 4,620 fine for his role in defiling all the two girls aged 14 and 16 years. Yassir Maahir Haashi was also sentenced to 6 years imprisonmeny, 200 lashes and US$ 3,520 fine for defiling the two girls.  The other convicts Ayaanle Mahamoud Ali Carshe, Yahye Abdullahi Aadan and Abdirisak Hoosh Jibril will serve 8, 7 and 5 years jail terms respectively for their role in the incident. They will also receive 100 lashes each and pay a fine of US$ 2,560, US$ 1760 and US$ 1760 respectively. The court ordered that upon the completion of their jail terms, the convicts will not be released until they pay the fines. The sixth accused teenager in the case is still at large.

In the attack on 6th December 2016, six teenage boys forced the girls, into a car and drove them to a deserted location outside the town close to the Ethiopian border where they stripped and raped them, taking photographs and video which they posted on the social media facebook.

The incident attracted widespread condemnation as the photos and videos went viral on social media, amid a standoff on which justice system to be applied. While authorities and activists demanded that the case be arbitrated under the Sexual Offenses Act passed recently in Puntland, the religious leaders, a section of the local community and families of the victims had wanted the case be dealt with under Sharia law. The families of the perpetrators on their part had wanted the case to be arbitrated under customary law. As a compromise, a sharia court was empanelled mid January 2017 to hear the case, with the Puntland government authorities as observers.

“It’s inhuman what those young girls have been through, the way they have been raped, tortured, stabbed,” said Hawa Aden Mohamed, executive director of the Galkayo Center for Peace and Development (GECPD), which has been helping the girls.

Faiza Jama Mohamed, head of the Nairobi office of the women’s rights advocacy group Equality Now, said the attack highlighted the plight of thousands of Somali women.

“It has been happening silently to many women and girls,” Mohamed told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

“Only now that it has escalated to the level of being shared through the internet, it became a big issue.”

Rape is pervasive and often goes unpunished in much of Somalia, where decades of conflict have fuelled a culture of violence and weakened institutions meant to uphold the law.

Traditionally, rape victims are forced to accept compensation – often in the form of camels or livestock – and marry their assailants in a centuries-old practice designed to end war between rival clans.

Women across Somalia are often reluctant to report rape for fear of being denounced as impure and immoral and rejected by their families.

Equality Now’s Mohamed said a crowd of hostile men came to the hospital where the girls were being treated, demanding their release.

“The hospital was under siege,” she said. “That gives a red flag in terms of how the community is normalising this.”

Clan elders initially proposed that the perpetrators’ families pay each of the girls’ families 100 camels in compensation – an offer they rejected, GECPD said.

“We have refused to allow traditional elders to intervene,” Mohamed Ali Farrah, director of Puntland’s justice ministry, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Puntland passed a Sexual Offences Act in 2015, introducing a 15-year minimum sentence for rape, as well as legal aid and free medical care for survivors.

It also seeks to end traditional justice practices by stating that marrying the victim is not a defence and compensation does not “extinguish the criminal action”.

 

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