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Women’s Rights in Somaliland


Kaltun Hassan, women's rights in SomalilandYesterday Kaltun Hassan from Somaliland came in to the office to tell us about women’s rights in Somaliland.

Kaltun works for our partner organisation, WAAPO (Women’s Action for Advocacy and Progress), a leading women’s rights NGO in Somaliland.

The collapse of the central government in Somalia in 1991 began a civil war that destroyed the county’s infrastructure. In the same year, the Republic of Somaliland declared its independence and has enjoyed relative peace and stability since.

However, the ongoing conflict in south and central Somalia has caused thousands of people to travel north to Somaliland and settle in urban areas like Hargeisa in Maroodi Jeex. Recurring drought and famine in the region have generated a humanitarian crisis, causing more displaced people to move to informal settlements in this area, and increasing the pressure on already over-stretched services.

Women and girls are at particular risk when living in these informal settlements. In Somalia, the rape of females is widespread and displaced women living in settlements that are overcrowded, insecure and poorly lit are at particular risk.

These women can no longer rely on the normal mechanisms for protection, such as family and community structures, and social and economic support systems.

Kaltun works on a programme which aims to tackle violence against women by training and educating communities, including men and women, and key groups such as the police and health workers.

They have recently opened a shelter for victims of domestic violence in Somaliland. A safe place where women who have been attacked can stay for up to a month, this provides refuge, counselling, and an environment in which to recover.

Sadly, in Somaliland women can sometimes be blamed for being raped and experience anger from family members. This shelter provides them with vital protection when they need it most.

Four women can stay in the shelter at a time, and they support each other through the experience, taking part in group counselling and often forming strong bonds.

Kaltun says she watches the women heal over their time in the shelter until they are ready to leave. Often, later, they come back to WAAPO to take part in educational workshops on violence against women, telling other people about their experience and continuing the healing process.

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