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Sexual exploitation and abuse: A form of GBV


Gender-based violence is an umbrella term for any harmful act that is perpetrated against a person’s will, and that is based on socially ascribed (gender) differences between males and females. Around the world, GBV disproportionately affects women and girls because of their subordinate status to men and boys. As such, the term is most often used to highlight women and girls’ particular vulnerability to violence because of gender inequality.

Worldwide, about 80% of all crimes against property are committed by men, as are 95% of crimes involving violence. Women are much more vulnerable to violence within intimate and familial relationships, whereas men are more likely to be attacked by a stranger or acquaintance.

Studies indicate that on average over 90% of perpetrators of sexual violence against women are men, and in the case of male victims, between 63% and 86% of the perpetrators are men.

Sexual exploitation and abuse is a form of GBV. Anyone can commit sexual exploitation and abuse, but the most likely perpetrators are males and the most likely victims are females. SEA is a violation of human rights and an abuse of power. Those with more power are more likely to perpetrate; those with less power are vulnerable to becoming victims.

Humanitarian aid workers, peacekeepers and others working in development settings virtually always have more power over those we are there to serve. Sexual exploitation and abuse not only undermines the image and effectiveness of our work, it also has serious consequences for the individuals and communities affected.

Sometimes, it happens that girls at schools are forced to have relationships with their lecturers or else they will fail in the exam. Some managers at work places as well as in the IDP camps take the opportunity of their vulnerability to help those girls in exchange of something.


The ways that you illustrate the problems and concerns regarding GBV are amazing and I am so happy you pointed out the diversity of the term. It implicates women on all levels, physically, socially, emotionally, and emotionally. Leading it to effect her home life and work life. Thus, I was wondering if you could illustrate Somalia's view on GBV. Furthermore, if it conflicts with the view that Arabic and African nations have on GBV issues. Furthermore, is how GBV represented in Somalia similar to that of the international community.

Thanks for a wonderful view on GBV,

Carri Pence

Ruun Abdi's picture

Somalia was lacking central

Somalia was lacking central government since late 1990s and since then the community faced a lot of violence and instabilities including GBV, especially women and girls face almost all kinds of GBV like the domestic violence, early and forced marriage, rape, and psychosocial problems. We do have the same views as the other nations towards GBV but because of these numerous problems in the country increases its number unlike the other countries.

Early and forced marriages existed even before the civil war, girls have been forced to marry men they don’t even know in the early age, and also the domestic violence used to take place but at least by then there was a government and courts to complain unlike the situation now.

Rape used to be something so shameful in the Somali culture/context and religion and any one accused for that used to face traditional/legal regulations but now since there is no central government it has increased in number than before, day after the other. Nowadays things have changed teenage boys between the ages of 13-20 walking together mostly 5-10 in number are the ones causing that, mostly at night time there are some places you cant even walk at night without a car, apart from these teenages there are some robbers who have guns and cause violence including GBV.

Some humanitarian aid workers/agencies take the advantage of their power over these people’s vulnerability/helplessness, poverty, and educational status to exploit/abuse them either by force or by giving them something.

One of my friends who work with GBV case workers once told me this story of an IDP woman they met in a training “There was a time whereby a wife has been raped in front of her husband and he can’t do anything to save her. Another night a gunman tried to rape a girl, some of the IDPs managed to surround him, they captured and brought him to the police station, he was later sentenced to one year in prison.”

I hope I answered your query but if you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact me.



Carri Pence's picture

Thanks so much for the

Thanks so much for the answers. They are beyond helpful in my journey to understand the context of GBV in Somalia and furthermore, just understanding Somalia. Since there is no central government creating a stable foundation, other than rights addressing GBV, what else has been effected? And since there is no/weak central government, are people becoming more focused on their local environment rather than placing importance on their national government?

You have already taught me so much,
Carri Pence

Ruun Abdi's picture

To be honest every have been

To be honest every have been effected after the civil war in the first few years but later there are some places who built regional governments like Puntland (1998) in the Northeastern of Somalia and Somaliland (1993) in the North of the country. Puntland state consists of seven regions which are: Ayn, Barri, Sanaag, Karkaar, Nugaal, Mudug, and Sool.

Total area of the state of Puntland is 212,510 km2 (roughly one-third of Somalia’s geographical area), it was established in August 1998 after a decision made by local political and traditional leaders following several failed national reconciliation efforts in the wake of the somali civil war. Originally, the administration derived its legitimacy from a series of locally sponsored conferences in which the traditional council of elders (Isimada) played a key role.

You can have a look at this URL to see the history, administrations passed by the state (3 administrations since 1998) and its livelihood including education, and so on, this is where I live happily with my family many thanks to Allah.

Apart from these two states whose leaders declared as autonomous states, the South and Central of Somalia is still burning and people there are suffering from all kinds of violence. We do always pray from Allah to help those who are still suffering from the trauma and stress of the war, which always face violence and human rights violations, who can’t sleep or live without the fear of when will be your turn to die. There have been many reconciliation attempts but were fruitless all of them and the last was the Somali Peace agreement in Mbagathi Kenya in 2004, the Transitional Federal Government was the outcome of the conference but still it’s not fully functioning and it only operates in a small portion in Mogadishu.

If you still need more clarifications please do not hesitate to ask.


Starland's picture

Thank you

Many thanks for this enlightening post and your correspondence with Carri. Very informative indeed. I greatly appreciate all you have shared.

Thanks so much

K-lee 3709

K-lee Starland, Ph.D.

Ruun Abdi's picture

Dear Starland, You are most

Dear Starland,

You are most welcomed.

In friendship


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