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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Using women as the spoils of war

Photo of displaced Somali women courtesy of wn.com.

It’s happened throughout history and Islamic extremists are not alone in their assumption that women are the spoils of war. 

American soldiers of various faith traditions have also been guilty of such crimes. But this front-page story at the NY Times on the plight of Somali women and girls now facing an “alarming increase in rape and sexual abuse” is painfully difficult to read. 

But read it we must and face the reality that being born female is still a nightmarish handicap throughout much of the world.

Jeffrey Gettleman reports:

MOGADISHU, Somalia — The girl’s voice dropped to a hush as she remembered the bright, sunny afternoon when she stepped out of her hut and saw her best friend buried in the sand, up to her neck.

“You’re next,” the Shabab warned the girl, a frail 17-year-old who was living with her brother in a squalid refugee camp. 

Several months later, the men came back. Five militants burst into her hut, pinned her down and gang-raped her, she said. They claimed to be on a jihad, or holy war, and any resistance was considered a crime against Islam, punishable by death. 

“I’ve had some very bad dreams about these men,” she said, having recently escaped the area they control. “I don’t know what religion they are.” 

Somalia has been steadily worn down by decades of conflict and chaos, its cities in ruins and its people starving. Just this year, tens of thousands have died from famine, with countless others cut down in relentless combat. Now Somalis face yet another widespread terror: an alarming increase in rapes and sexual abuse of women and girls. 

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