"Sexual violence is pervasive in much of Somalia. Two decades of civil conflict and state collapse have created a large population of displaced persons and other people vulnerable to sexual violence. At the same time it has destroyed the state institutions that are supposed to protect those most at risk. Armed assailants, including members of state security forces, operating with complete impunity, sexually assault, rape, beat, shoot, and stab women and girls inside camps for the displaced and as they walk to market, tend to their fields, or forage for firewood. Members of Somalia's long marginalized minority communities are particularly at risk.
The United Nations reported nearly 800 cases of sexual and gender-based violence in Mogadishu alone for the first six months of 2013. The actual number is likely much higher.
Many victims will not report rape and sexual assault because they lack confidence in the justice system, are unaware of available health and justice services or cannot access them, and fear reprisal and stigma should they report rape. According to the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), about one-third of victims of sexual violence in Somalia are children.
After two decades of state collapse and armed conflict, Somali medical services and the justice system, including police and the courts, are profoundly ill-equipped to support and assist victims of sexual violence. As a result, women and young girls face what the UN's independent expert on human rights in Somalia refers to as “double victimization”— first the rape or sexual assault itself, then failure of the authorities to provide effective justice or medical and social support.