Sister Somalia, the first rape crisis center in Mogadishu, supports Somali sexual violence survivors by providing counseling, medical services, relocation, education, and business starter kits.

One Woman’s Story

Like so many in Somalia, Nadifa and her family needed food. When food distributions were available in a neighboring camp in the Al-Shabaab-controlled outskirts of Mogadishu, Nadifa went there in hopes of securing food to sustain her family. After hours in line, turned away with nothing, Nadifa returned home to a mother’s worst nightmare:  a man raping her 11 year-old daughter in front of her younger children.

Nadifa screamed, trying to fight off the man, a militia member, but was overwhelmed when more soldiers swarmed the tent. As she was dragged, kicking and screaming through the camp in front of neighbors, the abusers threatened anyone who might help. Outside of camp, the men beat Nadifa with fists, boots, and pistols, bound her hands and feet, and covered her head with a sack. They tortured her, burning plastic deep into her skin over every part of her body. Certain she was going to die, and in unbearable pain, Nadifa slipped into unconsciousness. She awoke in her hut with no idea how she got there.

Several weeks later, covered with untreated wounds, Nadifa met an outreach worker from Sister Somalia. Feeling “there was light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel”, she walked in the dark to be at the centre when its doors opened the next morning. Today, Nadifa beams with joy and life. She is a business owner and returns to the Centre almost daily, bringing women and girls to the program.


Sister Somalia Cofounder and Director, Fartuun Adan, receives the U.S. Sec. of State’s International Woman of Courage Award from First Lady Michelle Obama on March 8, 2013.

Listen to the Director of Programs and Development, Sister Somalia, Ilwad Elman talk about rebuilding Somalia.

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