Teenage rape victim is stoned to death as violence sweeps Somalia

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 06 November 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a2403
  1. Peter Moszynski
  1. 1London

    A 13 year old girl was publicly stoned to death last week in Somalia, as a new upsurge in violence and piracy threaten to disrupt humanitarian assistance to hundreds of thousands displaced by fighting in the country.

    Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow was killed on 27 October by a group of 50 men who stoned her to death in a stadium in the southern port of Kismaayo, an area recently recaptured by Islamist insurgents, in front of around 1000 spectators.

    She was accused of adultery, in breach of Islamic law, but her father and other sources told Amnesty International that she had in fact been raped by three men.

    After the rape her family attempted to report it to the al-Shabab militia, who control Kismaayo, and it was this act that resulted in her being accused of adultery and detained. None of the men she accused of rape was arrested.

    David Copeman, Amnesty International’s Somalia campaigner, said: “This was not justice, nor was it an execution. This child suffered an horrendous death at the behest of the armed opposition groups who currently control Kismaayo.”

    Eyewitnesses reported that, at one point during the stoning, during which the girl was buried in the ground, nurses were told to check whether she was still alive. They removed her from the ground and declared that she was, and she was replaced in the hole where she had been buried for the stoning to continue.

    “This killing is yet another human rights abuse committed by the combatants to the conflict in Somalia,” said Mr Copeman, “and again demonstrates the importance of international action to investigate and document such abuses, through an international commission of inquiry.”

    Amnesty International reports that “an escalating wave of attacks on humanitarian workers, peace activists, and human rights defenders” has been sweeping the country.

    The news of the stoning came just before the publication this week by Amnesty of a new report on Somalia, which says that at least 40 Somali human rights defenders and humanitarian workers were killed between 1 January and 10 September this year.

    The report warns that this violence has resulted in “the further deterioration of human rights and humanitarian conditions for the majority of the population.”

    It says: “The restrictions on the freedom of humanitarian agencies to deliver emergency humanitarian services—food, shelter and essential medical services—form one of the leading factors contributing to widespread malnutrition and death from starvation or preventable diseases throughout the area.”

    Amnesty cautions: “The humanitarian situation in Somalia has continued to worsen. Recent UN reports state that 3.25 million Somalis, 43% of the population, will require food aid until the end of 2008. There is a growing food shortage in urban areas.

    “Somalia is currently suffering from the worst drought the region has faced since the early 1990s, with four consecutive failed rains. This drought comes on top of rapid increases in the local price of food, a rapidly devaluing Somali shilling and growing global food prices.”

    The humanitarian situation has been exacerbated by armed conflict, and more than 1.1 million Somalis are currently displaced.


    Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a2403


    • Attacks on Aid Workers and Rights Defenders in Somalia is available at Amnesty International is holding an event to discuss human rights in Somalia on 11 November at 7 pm at the Amnesty International UK Human Rights Action Centre, 17-25 New Inn Yard, London EC2A 3EA. To book a seat email jennifer.scott-taggart{at}

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