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Somali Case a 'Stark Reminder' of 'Dismissive' Attitudes Toward Sexual Violence Worldwide, Editorial States

Somali Case a 'Stark Reminder' of 'Dismissive' Attitudes Toward Sexual Violence Worldwide, Editorial States

February 12, 2013 — "The disturbing case of a Somali woman who alleged she was raped by security forces, only to be convicted by a court Tuesday of making a false claim and insulting the state" serves as a "stark reminder of how dismissive governments often are -- not just in Somalia but around the world -- of sexual violence against women," a Los Angeles Times editorial states.

"According to Human Rights Watch, women reporting sexual assaults have been treated callously and skeptically by law enforcement agencies from Colombia to the District of Columbia," the editorial continues. In some cases, women are "intimidated, publicly shamed or even prosecuted for daring to speak out," while in others, their allegations are ignored or not thoroughly investigated, the editorial adds.

The editorial urges the State Department's Office of Global Women's Issues -- created four years ago by President Obama -- and the office's ambassador at large to "be aggressive in decrying violence against women, working with foreign governments to reform sluggish enforcement of sexual assault laws and to foster a more enlightened outlook on the nature of sexual violence." It concludes, "Women everywhere should have the right to report a sexual assault without fear of retribution, and with the confidence that their claims will be taken seriously" (Los Angeles Times, 2/8).