Shock as girl, 11, is discovered dead after missing for two weeks in Somalia
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Shock and despair engulfed Godinlabe village within Galmadug after the body of a girl was discovered disposed of in the nearby thickets, over 15 days after she was reported missing, in an incident which court yet again raises questions about the safety of minors in Somalia.
Aisha Mohammed, 11, went missing two weeks ago and the family had launched a frantic operation to trace her but the efforts didn't yield much. According to authorities, her body was exposed to severe injuries and there were signs of rape.
Police in Galmadug said a woman had been arrested in connection with the disappearance and killing of the minor, but no further details were given on how detectives narrowed down to her. She's still in custody and would aid with investigations.
Her death is likely to spark protests and criticism from human rights activists who have been rallying against rape and other inhuman acts targeting the girl child, whose life is exposed to many dangers in Somalia, a country which is struggling with instability.
The body was found around 15 kilometers from Godinlabe town which is located in the Galgadud region according to an eyewitness. Authorities in Somalia are yet to establish if it was a murder or rape case, but the two are common in Somalia given that many cases of such nature have been reported.
Galgadud has been under the control of ASWJ militia, but then recently lost a battle to the Somali National Army [SNA] after a brief clash in Dhusamareb, the regional administrative capital of Galmadug in February this year. The militia drove out Al-Shabaab from the region in 2016.
Cases of rape are common in Somalia. For instance, two women were raped in April at the outskirts of Baidoa in Southwest by suspected SNA troops. One of the ladies aged 14 died instantly and the ministry of defense promised to investigate the incident.
In Lower Shebelle near Afgoye, two children were also repeatedly raped by unknown assailants early this year. Over 18 people were arrested by authorities and are currently in battling for their release in court, but the prosecutors are still handling the matter.
And in February, a firing squad executed two men after being convicted of rape in Bosaso within Puntland. The two had been found guilty of raping and killing a girl in Galkayo in 2019, a town that borders both Puntland and Galmadug states.
Somalia does not have a robust law on rape and other domestic violence-related cases and the loophole has often been misused by assailants, mostly tribal militia, Al-Shabaab militants, and members of the SNA. There are hundreds of gender-based cases that have been reported in the country.
For years now, international partners have been pushing for enactment of proper laws that would help handle such cases but parliament is yet to approve any. However, some federal states such as Puntland have internal judicial mechanisms of solving such incidents.
With the effects of civil war and Al-Shabaab menace still evident, Somalia is one of the dangerous countries for women, and their plights have often gone unreported due to frequent threats by the state targeting journalists. The case elicited uproar on several social media forums.