On Wednesday 10 June 2020, an unknown number of fighters from the radical group Al-Shabaab stormed into a house in a remote village in Finno, Mandera County, stabbed 2 girls from the same family and then gang-raped them and mutilated their genitals. The girls were taken to Mandera general hospital for treatment and counseling. According to local sources privy to the situation, the gunmen were looking for the father of the girls who escaped during the raid alongside his wife after he saw armed men with masked faces storming into his homestead.
Rape is pervasive and often goes unpunished in much of Northern Kenya, where decades of inter-clan conflicts have fueled a culture of violence. Victims have traditionally been forced to accept compensation – often in the form of camels or other livestock – and marry their assailants, a centuries-old practice designed to end the war between rival clans. On June 18, ‘Sahal journal’ carried the story of a young Somali woman in the US who said she was raped while she was in high school. The woman named as Muna Ahmed said in an interview that she was “ashamed” and didn’t know how to talk about the issue and that she tried to “kill myself by slitting my wrists,” The writer of the article goes ahead to say “What once was considered a taboo and stigma in the Somali and Oromo culture suddenly was out in the public.
Against cultural norms, digitally savvy East African women in their 20s used their platforms to break cultural prohibitions against discussing something that could bring shame to their family.” It’s not the first time Al-Shabaab militants have raped women in the area, according to the victim’s father. In the interview, he mentions a similar incident just a month ago where a younger girl was raped by gunmen thought to be Al-Shabaab’s ‘Jabha’ squad. Some of the locals claim that they are certain the men who raped the two girls in Fino are members of AlShabaab. This case however is not the usual rape cases that the region is accustomed to. It’s seen as a sign of Al Shabaab sending a message to the father of the family. The father who is from the Murule clan is said to have been a member of the terror group himself before he deserted them.
Apparently he was on Al-Shabaab’s watch list for some time after he was suspected of spying for the county administration. With the Somali government’s efforts mainly focused on combating the coronavirus pandemic and the upcoming elections, the radical group is running riot with almost daily attacks on the Somali army, AMISOM forces, civil servants and assassinations of anyone with links or is working for the government which the group considers as illegitimate. Al-Shabaab courts have of late also carried out several public executions of people accused of spying for either the government or the US forces who have intensified airstrikes against the group.
The group is also is making new strides in the north-east as evidenced in its surge of operations in Puntland in a campaign of assassination, and its operations throughout north-eastern Somalia. In the past five months, it has killed over 40 civil servants, security personnel and leading politicians. They include the regional governor of Nugal, Abdisalam Hassan Hersi ‘Gujir’, who was murdered on 29 March, and the governor of Mudug, Ahmed Muse Nur, who was killed on 17 May