New York, US (PANA) - Ms. Rashida Manjoo, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, on Friday called for greater efforts to improve the plight of women in Somalia, thousands of whom remain extremely vulnerable to discrimination and violence.
"While I support the Somali government’s tentative efforts to address the issues of violence against women, I note that there still are many challenges for the full and effective participation of women in the political process,” Ms Manjoo said in a statement after her eight-day mission to Somalia.
The statement, which was made available to PANA in New York, quoted the rapporteur as saying that violence against women was a manifestation of inequality and discrimination which cannot be addressed in isolation of the historical and current context.
She noted the lack of substantive reporting of violence against women and girls, and the absence of proper statistics and data, by the authorities, international agencies and civil society.
"The absence of accountability mechanisms and specialized services for women and girl victims of various forms of violence, also contribute to such invisibility and silencing," Ms Manjoo said.
She also stated that Somalia was also not immune to the problem of domestic violence, the most pervasive form of violence against women, adding that the problem was exacerbated by the internal conflict, the displacement of populations and non-functioning State authorities.
"In the absence of accountability mechanisms, impunity for acts of violence against women and girls is the norm. Furthermore, the use of traditional dispute forums to resolve issues of violence against women results in little or no justice for such victims," the UN expert said.
She further stressed that Somalia currently had an opportunity to promote human rights for all, and to place the issue of violence against women on the national agenda.
Ms Manjoo also called on all stakeholders to take on the responsibility to make this a reality.
The expert reports are an independent and unpaid capacity to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Her full report on Somalia will be submitted to the Council next June.
During her eight-day mission, Ms Manjoo met with UN and international agencies based in Nairobi, and then travelled to Garowe in Puntland and Mogadishu, the Somali capital, to meet with government officials and representatives of the African Union peacekeeping mission (AMISOM) and civil society.
She also visited camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and police stations, and talked with individual victims of gender-based violence.
-0- PANA AA/MA 16Dec2011