Cover Up Or Else…
Al-Shabaab, which means “youth” in Arabic, controls most of south and central Somalia. It is believed to be a proxy of Al-Qeada, and is itself a hardline Islamist group. Al-Shabaab wants to impose its own brand of Sharia Islamic law throughout Somalia. In pursuing this goal, Al-Shabaab reportedly carried out abductions and is said to punish people for varous crimes, with such punishments as stoning, amputation of limbs, imprisonment and caning. Now even the women refugees are not spared. They have just been ordered by Al Shabaab to observe a strict dress code. And that’s not all the restrictions against women imposed by Al-Shabaab.
The Dress Code
The Afgoye corrider covers villages KM 13, Siinka Dheer, Elasha, Lafole and Arbska. In this Afgoye corrider lives thousands of Somali civilians who sought refuge from the civil war ravaging the country. Now Al-Shabaab has moved in and issued orders for the women refugees to cover up.
But how are the women folks to cover up? Al-Shabaab said to wear full-length clothing covering the whole body. So is this dress code meant for women who are in public places? Not so. Al-Shabaab said that a woman should cover her whole body even in the privacy of her own home.
Al-Shabaab said that any woman seen violating this edict would be punished. It did not say what kind of punishment but caning, imprisonment or execution cannot be ruled out.
In the southern Somali town of Jowhar, student Hamdi Osman said that whe was beaten for not wearing the long, shapeless black robes sanctioned by Al Shabaab. She was wearing a traditional Somali dress at that time. Hamdi Osman also said that she had seen Al Shabaab’s fighters searching buses for women who were “improperly” dressed.
Alongside the imposition of the dress code for women, Al Shabaab also imposed another rule. Women are not allowed to leave their homes unless escorted by their male guardians. This rule will force women to stay at home. In areas controlled by Al Shabaab, women have already been banned from working in public. This has resulted in many families facing financial ruins, becoming destitutes in the process. Hamdi Osman said earlier that she had seen Al-Shabaab’s insurgents searching buses for women traveling alone in Jowhar.
Al-Shabaab has also imposed a strict sex segregation law in regions under its control. This gender separation rule effectively banned unrelated men and women from speaking or walking together. It also means that unrelated men and women can no longer shake hands with one another.
Ban The Bra
These measures above are but the latest discriminations against women by Al-Shabaab. In October 2009, Al-Shabaab imposed another humiliating law against women. It said then that Muslim women are not allowed to wear bras because “breasts should be firm naturally, or just flat.” Women caught wearing bras are caned, then ordered to remove their bras, and to round up the public humiliation, they have to shake their breasts.
Think About It
Is Al-Shabaab right in its interpretation of Sharia law that resulted in discriminations against Muslim women? Does Islam discriminates against women?