Woman Stoned For Adultery in Somalia

Trigger Warning

In Somalia, insurgents have stoned a woman to death. The woman, who relatives named as Asha Ibrahim Dhuhulow, was buried in the ground up to her neck and pelted with rocks until she was dead. The “crime” of which she was accused was adultery.

The 23-year-old woman was placed in a hole up to her neck for the execution late on Monday in front of hundreds of people in a square of the southern port of Kismayu, which the Islamist insurgents captured in August.

Stones were hurled at her head and she was pulled out three times to see if she was dead, witnesses said. When a relative and others surged forward, guards opened fire, killing a child.

“A woman in green veil and black mask was brought in a car as we waited to watch the merciless act of stoning,” one local resident, Abdullahi Aden, told Reuters.

“We were told she submitted herself to be punished, yet we could see her screaming as she was forcefully bound, legs and hands. A relative of hers ran toward her, but the Islamists opened fire and killed a child.”

The European Union’s presidency condemned the stoning.

“The EU … condemns a particularly vile execution, which the Islamist insurgents who took control of the city deliberately publicized,” it said in a statement.

The Islamists last carried out public executions when they ruled Mogadishu and most of south Somalia for half of 2006. Allied Ethiopian and Somali government forces toppled them at the end of that year, but they have waged an Iraq-style guerrilla campaign since then, gradually taking territory back.

According to this NY Times blurb, Somali human rights officials say that the woman did not in fact commit adultery, but was raped.

Originally, I felt like this factor mattered. It’s an instinctual response, to think that this murder was even more unjust if the reasoning regarded a violent act committed against her. Of course, it does matter and we should care if she was raped in the sense that it would be another tragedy and human rights violation stacked on top of this one. And if Asha said that she was raped, I believe her.

But in the end, whether she was killed because of a rape, because of consensual sex, or because of sexual contact neither consensual or non-consensual because it was entirely imagined, it’s not the point. To emphasize that Asha was murdered because she was raped, and that’s why her death is a tragedy is to suggest that it would be less tragic if she actually had committed consensual adultery.

Asha’s life was taken from her, quite simply, because she was a woman. And a child was killed, it seems, because someone dared to even suggest with their body language that the murder was unjust. It’s a human rights violation, regardless of the details, and we should be saddened and outraged.

As I came up pretty empty-handed: if you have information on any feminist or human rights groups, particularly those from the region, working on crimes like this one, please leave that information in the comments or email me and I will add it to the post.

cross-posted at The Curvature

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9 comments for “Woman Stoned For Adultery in Somalia

  1. October 30, 2008 at 11:49 am

    When I read about this late last night I simply did not have the words to articulate how this made me feel. It seems that we have never left the burning times. Even though this happened in Somalia, violence against women is a global phenomenon. There is not a single one of us daily that does not live with the threat of it impacting our lives.
    Today I am wearing red, in solidarity with all woc of color who live with and or have experienced violence but I am also thinking of all of us who have been fortunate to have a survivors story to tell because so many, women just like Asha have been permanently silenced. It is up to those of us who have the voice and strength to do it, to tell our individual stories and let the world know that the earth is filled with the blood of woman and it is time for a cessation. It is time for a healing.

  2. Ruth W
    October 30, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    Try Women Living Under Muslim Law at http://www.wluml.org/english/index.shtml

    Their article about this incident is at http://www.wluml.org/english/newsfulltxt.shtml?cmd%5B157%5D=x-157-562798

    It provides a link to another organization, Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women! at http://www.stop-stoning.org

  3. S
    October 31, 2008 at 9:15 am

    I just wanted to echo what Renee said: that violence against women wherever it happens affects us all.

    I was rather disappointed too by the EU’s statement which brushed over the important fact that the victim was a woman. Stoning is a form of murder predominantly against women and the EU refer to it as a form of execution when it was used not as legitimite punishment for a crime (as if it could ever be anyway) but as a form of violent control.

  4. TD
    October 31, 2008 at 10:38 am

    Isn’t this why ISAF efforts in Afghanistan should be supported? The Taliban did the same thing to their women. The ISAF forces, especially those in the South have actively attempted to improve the lives of women and to protect them against this sort of thing from the Taliban.

    I don’t think that the monsters who did this are going to respond to condemnation from the EU, the US or anyone else, they’re already an international pariah. When people are this far gone what response is there but direct military intervention? The world might not want to intervene in Somalia again considering past experience, but the threat in Afghanistan of the Taliban regaining control and once again making these atrocities commonplace is quite real. While there are very real problems with the mission its goal to prevent a resurgence of the Taliban is necessary.

    We might not be able to change anything in Somalia yet but we can help Afghanistan which faces the same threat.

  5. Outraged Somali
    November 1, 2008 at 7:49 am

    Like every decent human being and as a typical Somali, I am also outraged, shocked and condemning the cowards who executed Aisha in the name of a religion they know nothing of. They followed not what all religions and human thinking demands, but their sick and twisted minds. All Somalis have condemned this heinous act and have recorded their outrage in the hundreds of Somali internet sites and blogs. We pray for the girl whose name is Aisha and whose father in a subsequent interview with VOA stated she was a 14 year old kid. One day the culprits will be brought to justice. See a typical reaction in this blog Somalia Recorder – http://somaliarecorder.wordpress.com/

  6. November 1, 2008 at 9:57 am

    I read in the news today that Asha was not 23 years old, as previously said, but rather fourteen.

    There are no words, honestly. There are no words.

  7. November 2, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    cara, the reports i read said the girl was 13 years old:



  8. clasire
    November 2, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    The story of Ashas murder will not leave me since I read it yesterday in El Pais. feel so angry and heartsick. According to El Pais a thousand ‘people’ (sic) turned up to watch fifty men stoning a ‘;thirty four year old prostitute’ etc etc to death. Only when they saw it was a fourteen year old girl did a couple try to intervene and were shot at. The first poster is right – it;s irrelevent the supposed reasons used to justify it. Asha was member of a less powerful clan which may have been a factor but she was killed for being a woman in a world where often that’s enough of a reason. Please mail me if you know of any forum or if we can set up tribute, something to raise awareness.
    Rst in peace Asha and condolences fo her family

  9. Rebecca
    November 30, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    I was telling a friend just the other day about Aisha and her story and how it just tore my heart open thinking about her. I told her that while there are so many injustices in the world towards humanity-her story has changed me for life. I will never be the same. My friend’s response (paraphrased) was that she must be a saint. I say that while she faced a horendous death, let’s keep her story alive in the hopes that this stupid practice can be seen for what it really is-violence towards women and their sexuality. I am rather tired of it all and plan to tell Aisha’s story through my art and whenever I can.

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