THE case of a 12-year-old Somali girl allegedly raped by a
Ugandan soldier is among the evidence compiled by Human Rights
Watch (HRW) in a new report on sexual abuse by African Union (AU)
peacekeeping forces in Somalia.
The girl's parents told investigators that they had been taken
to meet officials from the African Union Mission in Somalia
(AMISOM), and had been promised 50 camels as compensation. These
have not appeared.
"Whenever we go out, people started pointing their fingers at
us," the mother said. "My daughter was the victim who felt the
physical pain, and paid the price of the stigma after that. People
laugh at her whenever she comes out. They say, 'An infidel raped
The HRW report, The Power These Men Have Over Us, which
was published on Monday, is based on 50 interviews. It documents
the way in which some AMISOM soldiers, deployed to Somalia since
2007 to help restore stability, have, at their bases in Mogadishu,
sexually abused and exploited vulnerable Somali women and girls.
Researchers spoke to 21 women and girls who described being raped
or sexually exploited by Ugandan or Burundian military personnel
serving with the AU forces. Some soldiers have exploited women's
poverty and lack of food, the report alleges.
UN policy explicitly prohibits peacekeepers from exchanging any
money, goods, or services for sex. AMISOM has developed a draft
policy on prevention and response to sexual exploitation and abuse,
but HRW argues that "there are still no complaint mechanisms, and
little or no capacity to investigate abuses."
"The AU military and political leadership needs to do more to
prevent, identify, and punish sexual abuse by their troops," Daniel
Bekele, Africa director at HRW, said. "As another food crisis looms
in Mogadishu's displacement camps, women and girls are once again
desperate for food and medicine. They should not have to sell their
bodies for their families to survive."