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VAW- Erreneous notion's of men ability over women !

While the situation in Dadaab refugee camps is dire and deserving of attention, violence against women is global issue according to united nation. One out of three women will be beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime.Violence against women is often based on erroneous notion of men authority over women. Under no circumstances does the Qur'an encourage, or condone physical abuse or cruelty towards women. The maximum allowed in extreme cases is a gentle tap that does not even leave a mark on the body. In the event of a family dispute with the problem relating to the wife's behavior, her husband may exhort her and appeal for reason. if the problem continues, the husband may express his displeasure in another peaceful manner by sleeping in a separate bed from hers and if that don't solve the problem the husband may resort to another measure best described as a gentle tap on the body, but never on the face, making it more of a symbolic measure than a punitive one.

The Islamic shari’a has long co-existed with Somali customary law despite apparent contradictions between the two. The Shari'a is more progressive than Somali customary law. It grants women rights in inheritance and ownership, stipulates procedures for settling divorce, initiating marriage, maintaining widows and orphans and discourages harmful cultural practices. While the customary law that is practiced encourages the harmful practices and often denies women their share of inheritance in camels, land and farms by families, in order to protect the property of the patriarchal family.

Somali customs and practices also include arranged marriages, in which the consent of the women involved is not sought, and not adhering to the strict conditions attached to multiple wives. The status quo of cultural practices in daddab refugee camps is devastating and imposing control over women’s bodies, sexuality, emotions, decisions and actions, preventing them from expressing their own free will and enjoying their fundamental freedoms and human rights. While culture norms and beliefs must be treated with respect, one should also keep in mind that cultural sensitivity doesn’t outweigh the human rights practice.

Beyond the immediate psychological and physical harm, violence against women has extensive health and social repercussions for individuals, families and communities. It reduces women's and girls' contributions to economic development and traps them in a life of poverty. Violence against women and girls strikes at the heart of an individual's self-worth. At the very core, violence is a root cause for women's and girls' dis-empowerment and marginalization.

In Dadaab Refugee camps, humanitarian organizations such as CARE are working with local groups and communities to find solutions to the root causes of violence. They are challenging community norms that devalue women, building and supporting community structures, delivering services to survivors, and advocating for policy changes that support gender equality. By empowering women and girls through increased access to quality comprehensive health services, education and other community-based services and resources, as well as educating men and boys to respect and value their female counterparts, entire communities can begin to break the cycle of violence.

These practices caused women to relentless violation despite of its cultural leaning. For example wife inheritance- this practice is purposely done “to secure the orphans children future, safeguard family wealth and ensure the continued upkeep of a bereaved family within the confines familiar relatives”. The widow’s consent to these arrangements is necessary and in this most cases sought. However vulnerability like illiteracy and lack of a sustained income with a patriarchal Somali community context, tips the scales towards enforced wife inheritance in some cases. In case the widow repel in such compelling grievances, she will automatically lose all the property including the children and kill the new husband and survivor to retain the wealth and children. A certain Somali adage says “Dumaal didama male, dorashey ledhaahay” meaning a widow has no right to decline inheritance, but has right to select any of her brother in-laws regardless of her affections and in any case the deceased didn’t have male siblings, the next of kin including the decease uncle’s or any clan relatives will inherit her despite of their ages.

“If you have ever worked for GBV survivor’s or any other abuse in any cultural settings, you will never be able to forget the devastating impact it has on all aspects of their life, nor will you be able to sit back and do nothing about this issue. These are serious crimes that corrode the fabric of family and society including my own family .Starting from me as a FGM survivor ,my dad who inherits two of his late brother wives, my sister who is also a victim of wife inheritance and my brother who inherits my deceased brother wife .

1.Engaging men to lead champagnes since men are dominant figure in society and thus have the greatest power to
challenge unequal gender norms to combat violence against women .
2.Empower women to speak against all forms of violence
3.Encourage men to use alternatives ways of conflict resolution and family discipline
4.Reduce women vulnerability to GBV by empowering them social economical support.
5.Legislation against GBV and established mechanism to hold perpetrators of sexual violence accountable and face the full law.
6.Influence law enforcement agencies and legal justice system to refrain any corruptions of dismissing the cases
survivor's seeking for legal redress .
7. Continuous financial support to prevention and response of Sexual and gender base violence programmings
especially in conflict areas and marginalized communities .
8.Influence government policies to ban all cultural practices and traditional justice mechanism that intervened complex criminal cases .

This story was written for World Pulse’s Ending Violence Against Women Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring an end to gender-based violence. The EVAW Campaign elicits powerful content from women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as vocal grassroots leaders, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
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William's picture

women in Somali

thank you for sharing this article. I found it very educational.Blessings.

Fardosa Muse's picture

Thanks William,I'm glad it's

Thanks William,I'm glad it's educational.

Every One, Every Day ,Every Way, Prevent Vi0lenCE AgainST W0men On YouR Way!

topieopolot's picture

dear fardosa

i pulled this from your comment because i believe and agree with you in this" empowering women and girls through increased access to quality comprehensive health services, education and other community-based services and resources, as well as educating men and boys to respect and value their female counterparts, entire communities can begin to break the cycle of violence."
in this matters of violence ,change i believe starts in involvement of both parties men and women, not much will be achieved when we sensitive the women alone rather should engage the men too at all levels. given they are perpetrators and we the victims of customs long made probably by the chauvinist males of so long ago who did not envision the implications of their actions.
in my tribe and s few others in Uganda, there was a time when women were not allowed to eat chicken and beating a normal occurrence, as a child i witnessed two incidences were men beat their wives and the community didnt do much...its something that has stayed in my memory and probably gave me the strength and turned me in to a stronger person because as i grew older i continuously pep talked my self not to ever be in that kind of helpless situation...
thanks for sharing and you have educated me on a little bit of the sharia law and Somalia customs.
take care

Fardosa Muse's picture

your'e welcome dear

Your welcome dear ! and thanks

Every One, Every Day ,Every Way, Prevent Vi0lenCE AgainST W0men On YouR Way!

Kristen Hecht's picture

The complexity of it all

Hi Fardosa. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with the World Pulse community. You touch on so many issues that remind me that violence against women is complex in itself. Patriarchy, cultural norms, religious customs, corrupt legal systems, and other root causes are all at play. Your own family illustrates the complexity of violence against women-- from FGM to varied inheritance rights.

You list a number of terrific recommendations, which I agree with--especially the importance of engaging men when challenging unequal gender norms and combating violence against women. Thank you for your very holistic approach, for surely such a complex issue will require many changes on multiple levels.

Fardosa Muse's picture


Thank you Kristin for your comments ,I'm glade you acknowledge my recommendations.
stay safe .

Every One, Every Day ,Every Way, Prevent Vi0lenCE AgainST W0men On YouR Way!

Jan K Askin's picture

Gender-Based Violence

Dear Fardosa,

Your combine reasonable arguments for equal gender treatment of Muslim/Somali/Kenyan women with specific examples to underlie their necessity.

You do good work every day! You are brave and courageous, and now you take your arguments to a broader community.

Your recommendations are well-thought out and they can be achieved, but I know how hard is the work.


Jan Askin

Jan Askin

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