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Toronto (Canada)

06, Oct. 2003

M. M. Afrah

Our women are now trying hard to break the glass ceiling in politics. They are once again in the center of attention, a jumpstart to play a bigger role in a rebirth Somalia in the field of state affairs and leadership.

After being sidelined by their male counterparts for a very long time, despite the fact they had played a vital role in the struggle for independence and had suffered enormously in the civil/clan wars, they’re now in a strong position to share decision-making power in politics and parliamentary affairs life.

It is time for affirmative action and means to ensure that more women are elected, designated or appointed at all levels of political and parliamentary life and involve more equitably in the decision-making process.

The real question, therefore, is whether each of us is prepared to accept to rebuild a state in which no man is ashamed of our mothers, sisters and wives to be part of a resuscitated Somalia. Are we prepared to build a society in which all men can treat our woman-folk complete equality and in a spirit of free co-operation?

The recent outburst by women delegates at the circus of the decade they call peace and reconciliation conference in Kenya, in which they blamed men for causing all the conflicts, mayhem and misery in Somalia, should not be taken lightly. Apparently they can take it no more.

Why do women feel they shouldn’t “stand up to” or assert their independent thoughts, feelings and emotions to rich, famous or powerful warlord? Now they rightly feel to expose men who routinely use and abuse women in many parts of the world, including Somalia. It is a strong wake up call by those women at Mbagathi to other women to stand up to men, to refuse to do things they don’t feel comfortable doing, to keep their dignity and integrity—and doesn’t mince words about what is likely to happen if they don’t. Those women participants at the talks have taken the first brave step to publicly accuse men of oppression, sexual harassment, the shocking Pharaonic genital mutilation, forcing young girls to marry rich old men, murder and conspiracy of silence.

Many of these young girls endured verbal abuse, rage, and even being thrown of their homes by their fathers simply because they refused to put up with the outdated Arranged Marriage, and eventually ended up in the streets with militia free lancers in their daily looting and killing spree. They lose their health from years of chewing the drug khat, chain smoking, insomnia, malnutrition, war-weariness and without a roof over their heads.

I was outraged when I read “Hostage to the Gun” by a Somali woman who narrowly escaped death by seconds during the clan warfare in Mogadishu. The book recounts a number of horrifying stories of men debasing women, hurting them physically, emotionally and destroying their already fragile sense of self--all under the shadow of the gun.

But the revelation of this book represents only the tip of the iceberg of violence against women and children not only in Somalia, but in war-torn African countries, such as Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Congo.

Of course I am aware some of my male readers maybe upset by this expose, others may be ashamed of themselves mistreating our women that, up until now, they have been hell-bent on hiding.

Had we protected our women, perhaps some of the things that happened to them wouldn’t have happened, instead of seeing them only as bodies, objects for their pleasure—not as thinking, feeling human beings with hearts, minds and souls.

It is no wonder women became Presidents, Prime Ministers and Diplomats in a number of countries and have done and are doing noble tasks in state affairs, far more superior than their male counterparts who held similar offices.

In the meantime thank you for reading this article with an open mind and an open heart.

By M. M. Afrah©2003,


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