Sunday, 25 September 2011

On Top of Famine, Unspeakable Violence - my comment on a NY Times article by Nicholas D.Kristof

Nicholas D. Kristof has been covering the current famine in Somalia for The New York Times and on Sunday, 25 September wrote an article titled "On Top of Famine, Unspeakable Violence".  The article can be found by following this link:
The article spoke of the incidence of systematic mass rape along a corridor from the Somali border to a refugee camp in Kenya.  Ironically, the rapes were conducted by Somali men, too afraid of the Islamist group al-Shabab in Somalia itself, but strangely emboldened to act with impunity knowing they were operating in an area outside the organisation's reach.
I found the article depressing and was moved to leave the following (uneditted) comment on Mr Kristof's/The New York Times blog:
A disturbing article that raises many issues about human behaviour and inhumanity - regardless of race or economic status.

However, like Mr HIll, I find it difficult to agree with your optimism regarding family sizes. I have been working with Somali women here in London for a number of years now and there appears to be no change in their attitude to family size. Several of the women proudly announce that they have had 4,5,6 children since they came to London (and their sisters in another part of Europe have done likewise)! I think it is just as important to consider a woman's status and role within their culture - and Muslim culture in general. And not just women, but that of men too. (Large families are a sign of fertility with all that entails.)Until that changes, I suspect that family size will not be affected. I think this will change for the next generation who will have more opportunity and be less willing to be restricted by cultural norms. However, in Somalia itself this is a long way off.