Somalia: Is patriarchy invincible in Puntland ?

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By Liban Ahmad

Dr.Abdiweli_gas

A few weeks ago Puntland Development Research Center   issued a video based on a survey conducted  by its researchers in several districts under Puntland jurisdiction. PDRC researchers visited  Baargaal, Badhan, Galka’yo, Boo ‘ame, Garowe and Qardho. The survey was conducted  during September 2014, eight months after Dr Abdiweli Mohamed  Ali  defeated Abdirahman Farole in a tightly contested  parliamentary election. When I watched the video  ( with English subtitles)  on YouTube   two weeks ago, I thought  President  Abdiweli deserved to be commended for  sharing public    information that  his predecessors  might have censored.   PDRC interviews with people have spotlighted four issues that Dr Abdiweli’s administration ought to address.

 

Rape

 

Three  interviewees ( an old man and two ladies) talked about the  prevalence of rape against   girls below the age of 10.  A woman  in Bo’ame, a  hamlet north of Garowe, said her niece  was raped by   a young man. The man’s father had offered to pay 40 zakat ( compulsory alms ) to the  raped child’s family. The other woman said some fathers of rapists ask for the raped girl to be married off to the rapist.  In Islam Zakat is based on the wealth of the person.  Zakat obligation on a man with 53 heads of camels is less than that of a man with 200 heads of camel.   Condoning rape  is a   problem interviewees mentioned  as well as the  misuse of one of five pillars of Islam to victimise Somali girls.

 

Security

 

A young man in Badhan said he was happy to see people handing over arms to authorities because  “weapons in the hands of civilians   cause instability”. A lady in Galka’ayo has objected to the idea of handing over weapons. “Who will protect me if I give up my weapons?” she asked the PDRC interviewer.  Northern  Galka’yo ( under Puntland) sees the highest rate of assassinations  against reporters, traditional leaders, teachers and Puntland government officials.

 

Lack of staff training

 

Puntland government officials in different  sectors  pointed out that lack of training affected the work of security forces, courts  and civil servants. “ It is said Puntland has good people but bad leaders” one district commissioner  told PDRC.  A police officer in Goldogob district said he was worried about the people who know governance   are now aging.

 

Unpaid salaries

 

A police commander in Bargaal district complained about  non-payment of salaries of policemen.  “Some  of the policemen have told me they would leave the force and look for jobs”, the commander said.  How can Puntland address growing security challenges if it cannot pay its security forces?

 

The PDRC video has now been removed from YouTube possibly by people who would like Dr Abdiweli Ali’s  administration to face criticisms for being insensitive to the plight of its people. The silence of Puntland administration on issues discovered by PDRC survey will only fuel speculations that Puntland administration has pressured researchers to remove the video from YouTube. President Abdiweli knows  that  his reputation depends  on protecting  people under his jurisdiction by being open about the shortcomings of his administration.  President Abdiweli Mohamed  Ali should not allow the removal of the  PDRC video removed from YouTube to taint his administration.   PDRC was created to play  “a key role in research and funding for the development of local peace and effective governance initiatives.”

 

Liban Ahmad

 

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