Sister Somalia is dedicated to providing catalytic support to survivors of sexual violence in Somalia, while changing the global conversation on women’s security in Somalia, and pressing for long term institutional changes to provide more comprehensive protections from gender based violence as Somalia emerges from chaos.
WHO WE ARE
Sister Somalia was launched in the summer of 2011 as a collaboration between Lisa Shannon, founder of A Thousand Sisters, Katy Grant, a seasoned aid worker and founder of Prism Partnerships, and Somali human rights activist Fartuun Abdisalaan Adan, Co-founder and CEO of Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre. In February 2012, Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre assumed full management of all aspects of the Sister Somalia.
WHAT WE DO
Sister Somalia supports sexual violence survivors in Mogadishu and the surrounding areas, operating the country’s first rape crisis center. Our services include:
- phone counseling sessions
- group psycho-social counseling sessions
- transportation to the center in Mogadishu for a lunch or tea counseling session, which includes a letter from a foreign sister (learn how to send one here)
- access to medical care
- emergency grants for resettlement (this includes transportation for the family plus food for a week)
- vocational, literacy and numeracy training
- business starter kits, including three month’s rent for commercial space, and ongoing mentoring
- outreach by social workers at militia-controlled refugee camps, where the majority of women served live
Our work has helped women like Nadifa, who was tortured for trying to stop militia from raping her daughter. Through Sister Somalia, she received medical attention and her family was relocated from a refugee camp to a large one-bedroom apartment in a more secure area. Amina, 17, was gang raped in front of her siblings. She saw her attackers daily and was afraid to leave the house. Through Sister Somalia, she has found the support and empowerment she needed to move on.
A letter from Somali program director Fartuun Abdisalaan Adan:
Due to the constant violence, drought, and hunger, women and children are frequently forced to seek refuge in Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camps. Women in IDP camps face an incredibly high risk of sexual harassments and assaults. The images and video clips captured in the media do not begin to cover the actual day-to-day crisis in my country.
I decided to begin supporting victims of sexual violence because one too many times girls as young as 14 would share with me that they had been raped, then cast out from society for having a child out of wedlock.
In one previously recorded case from 2010, a woman in a region controlled by Al-Shabaab [a religious extremist group] was maliciously raped. Her husband was so angered that he took the matter to the Al-Shabaab court. The court superiors ordered his wife to be inspected to verify whether she was raped or if the activities were consensual. He was ordered to wait in a different room while she went through the inspection. An hour later, the husband was invited into the room, only to find his wife beheaded on the floor. The Al-Shabaab superiors expressed that the woman was at fault for making false accusations against the brothers of Al-Shabaab.
Violence against women takes place in every corner of Somalia. Poverty, war, cultural norms and beliefs, weak legislation, non-existent enforcement mechanisms, women’s economic dependency and inequality are amongst the leading contributing factors. Through Sister Somalia, we are trying to be the shoulder women and girls can lean on, we are trying to be their safe-haven.
Thank you for supporting Sister Somalia.