Around the World

Somalia's Female Oppression Worsens

Hallie Witwer
Insurgents of the extremist militant group Al Shabaab have recently banned the shaking of hands between unrelated men and women. The Al Shabaab, who are currently trying to overthrow the Somali government through force, also banned the freedom of men and women to walk together or even speak to one another. Although looked down upon prior to public declaration of banishment, women were already forbidden from working in public, causing a great deal of families to go hungry in an already poverty stricken country. The Al Shabaab, who are the ones placing these bans, say that their decisions were influenced by Wahabist sect ruling in Saudi Arabia which outlawed women from working in places that mixes them with men, as well as from driving.

In addition to all the recent decrees against co-mingling of the sexes, women are also getting publically beaten for their clothing, which sadly isn’t surprising as most of us are aware that the mistreatment of woman is commonplace in Islamic culture. Here in America, while women will get teased or called names for how they dress, that will be the worst of it. It’s stories like this that remind me of how lucky I am to wake up in good ol’ Ohio every morning.

According to individuals living in these communities, gunmen are actively searching out women who are breaking these harsh rules. When caught, the result can range anywhere from imprisonment, to whippings, to execution. The insurgents believe that a man shaking hands with a woman welcomes too much temptation. However, if there’s anything I’ve learned about men, it’s that they hardly need bodily contact in order for their minds to turn towards the dirty.

As a result of these rules, some men are refusing to even be around women at all for fear of slipping up while at their job or with their company. I don’t really blame them for this fear; human touch is something we all naturally do. It’s supposed to be vital for one’s mentality and psychological well-being to have a certain amount of physical human contact per day. This is a moot point though, for if the Al Shabaab is going around beating residents for indecent dress and handshaking, I’m fairly certain they don’t care if everyone is feeling mentally happy and emotionally satisfied.

The fact that I live in Ohio…in AMERICA…is made aware to me every day through news stories like these. I see my quaint apartment, and my more-or-less reliable little car, and appreciate my freedom and blessings. And now I can say that after doing the research for this article, I can also fully appreciate just being able to high-five my male friends.
* Image from Google Images.