Somalia: UNICEF speaks out against stoning death of 13-year-old rape victim

4 November 2008 – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has deplored last week’s stoning to death of a 13-year-old Somali girl who was a victim of rape.

Aisha Duhulow was stoned to death in a stadium full of spectators in the southern port city of Kismayo on 27 October after authorities found her guilty of adultery.

But reports indicate that she had been raped by three men while walking to visit her grandmother in the capital Mogadishu. After the attack, Aisha asked for protection from prosecutors, who in turn accused her of adultery and sentenced her to death.

“This is a tragic and deplorable incident,” said Christian Balslev-Olesen, UNICEF Representative for Somalia. “A child was victimized twice – first by the perpetrators of the rape and then by those responsible for administering justice.”

According to media reports, Aisha pleaded for her life before she was forced into a hole, buried up to her neck and then pelted with stones by some 50 men until she died in front of more than 1,000 people.

UNICEF said that this incident underscores the vulnerability of girls and women in the war-wracked Horn of Africa nation, where it says sexual and gender-based violence is commonplace and gender inequalities persist in access to essential services.

“Authorities and institutions of civil society have a role to play in supporting and protecting the rights of every child,” Mr. Balslev-Olesen said, noting that this killing reflects the great effort that must be undertaken to protect the rights of Somali girls and women.

“UNICEF is committed to promote the status of females and will continue to work with local authorities and partners to reduce the risks to them through the promotion of girls’ education, HIV prevention and support to services for survivors of all forms of sexual and gender-based violence.”


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