SIGN HERE NOW – The Authority to Rape‏

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My name is Laila and I’m a journalist.

avaaz rapeI recently wrote a story about a young woman brutally ‘gang-raped‘ by government soldiers in Somalia, hoping that her bravery in telling such a painful story would bring attention to the awful rape problem there. Instead, the government used my article to jail a rape victim and another journalist covering the story for ‘insulting the state’!

I wrote about a Somali woman brutally gang-raped by government soldiers to bring attention to the awful rape problem there. Instead, the government used my article to jail the rape victim along with another journalist who wrote about it! After international outcry, an appeals court just overturned the victim’s conviction, but the journalist is facing a sentence. Only if we all stand together can we end this epidemic of rape by security forces. Click below to join me.

After an international outcry, an appeals court just overturned the woman’s conviction, but the journalist is still in jail — and their case is one of many. Rape is horrific, but to be raped when the only authorities you can turn to for justice are your rapists — it’s the most crushing powerlessness. That’s why I started a global petition on the Avaaz site, because Somalia’s government depends heavily on financing from other governments, so the international community can press them to stop the cover up and bring real reforms to end the epidemic of rape by security forces.

Our call for change could really work, but it needs to be big. UN envoy Zainab Bangura has told us that she will directly deliver our petition to donor countries and Somalia’s President. Help by signing HERE — let’s show these women that they’re not alone, and that no one has the authority to rape them.

The brave young woman was accused of fabricating her own rape by government officials before she even got a trial. Then, the judge refused to hear witnesses or accept medical evidence proving that she was raped. Yesterday, an appeals court overturned her sentence, but the journalist who reported on it has been convicted, and it will happen again unless we act — I’ve interviewed too many women who live in constant fear of getting shot or raped, often by the very people charged with protecting them.

But there is hope for Somalia like never before. In just 18 months, it has approved a new constitution, selected a new president, and is finally winning its war against extremists. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud is in a position to act to protect women from his own armed forces, if we together give him a big reason to crack down on this state violence.

While the global outrage pushed courts to stop the prosecution of this innocent survivor, Abdiaziz Abdinur, the journalist who spoke to her, is still facing jail! Funders hold the key to changing the way Somalia’s own soldiers and security forces treat women. HERE.

The Avaaz community has fought courageously to stop the war on women across the world. Last month, more than 1 million of us signed a petition calling for justice and real change in India after the tragic death of a rape victim in Delhi, and received encouraging signs from top government ministers that they were heeding our call. Now, we can bring that people power to Somalia and set the country on a new course.

With hope and determination,

Laila Ali, with the Avaaz team

*Laila is a British-Somali journalist based in Nairobi

PS: This petition was started on Avaaz’s new Community Petitions Site. It’s quick and easy to start a petition on any issue you care about, click here: http://avaaz.org/en/petition/start_a_petition/?22165

MORE INFORMATION:

Somali woman wins appeal against sentence for claiming soldiers raped her (The Guardian)

I’m shocked that my reporting on rape in Somalia has led to the jailing of an alleged victim and a journalist (The Guardian)

Somalia: Woman Alleging Rape, Journalist Convicted (HRW)

Journalist arrested for interviewing reported rape victim (CPJ)

Somalia: Free journalist, others linked to rape allegation (HRW)

In meeting with Somali President, Clinton should stand up for rape victims (New York Times Blog)

Somali government to tackle rape cases (Al Jazeera)

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