Africa

Somali court sentences woman to jail for reporting rape

AFP

A Somali court has handed down jail sentences to a woman who said she was raped, and to the journalists who reported her story.

A Somali court has handed down a jail sentence to a woman who said she was raped. (Gallo)

A Somali court on Monday sentenced a woman who said she was raped to jail, and two journalists who broadcast her story, saying they were guilty of defamation and insulting state institutions.

The 19-year old woman, who is also a journalist, was handed a suspended six-month jail sentence for defamation and lying, during which time she will be confined to her home, said Judge Hashi Elmi Nur.

The journalists are to serve out their sentences, of one year and six months respectively, or pay a fine in order to win early release.

It is the second time this year Somalia has jailed a woman for speaking out about rape and journalists for interviewing her.

"The manager of Radio Shabelle, Abdulmalik Yusuf, was found guilty of offending state institutions, and therefore will serve a prison term of one year," the judge told the court.

"Journalist Mohamed Bashir was found guilty of defamation and making false rape accusations, so he is given a six months jail term."

Both have the possibility of paying a fine to leave jail, equivalent to around a dollar per day of their sentence, so around $365 for Yusuf, and $180 for Bashir.

Sensitive topic
Rape, and reporting on sexual assault, is one of the most sensitive topics in Somalia.

The alleged victim last month told the independent Radio Shabelle she was attacked and raped at gunpoint by two fellow journalists.

But it was the journalists who listened to her story who were jailed.

Last month, the United Nations in Somalia called for a "proper investigation" into the case, while Washington said it was "deeply concerned".

In February, a Somali journalist and a rape victim he interviewed were both sentenced to a year in prison after being found guilty of "offending state institutions". They were released two months into their jail term after the case sparked widespread international criticism.

In August, a Somali woman who alleged she was gang-raped by African Union soldiers was also held by police for questioning. – AFP

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