May 30th to 3rd June 2005 The intervention issues that are affecting Minority Right in Ethiopia, Somali Women Thank you Mr. Chairman for giving me this opportunity.
My name Kebinesh am representing Ethiopian women Lawyers Association (EWLA), Somali women as a minority ethnic group.
I would like to give you general overview of violence in Ethiopia, girl children in the northern Ethiopia suffer from early and pre-arranged marriages while those in the west, east and south suffer from abduction and FGM. Girls of the same age in the cities and in villages suffer from sexual harassment and rape. Moreover, their mothers are vulnerable to domestic violence sometimes taking culturally rooted forms such as the concept of a woman as the property and dependent of male protector, father, husband, son, etc which becomes a powerful justifier of the violence.
I would like to present the cross cutting issue of violence against women, which is affecting Ethiopian women in general and the Somali women in particular. The Minority Group on which I would like to focus is women of Somali ethnic in Ethiopia. Even though violence is common to all women the degree of violence in the Somali is very sever as compared to the rest of the women because they from minority ethnic group.
Somali is one of the eastern regional states of Ethiopia. Almost all of the people living in the area are Muslim religion follower. Somali is the region in which the practice of FGM is very high according the study conducted by Harmful traditional committee of Ethiopia since 1998 G.C.
FGM continues to hamper the health, education and the well being of girls and women. As a result of FGM women and girls are exposed to HIV/AID Since during circumcision the actors use one knife for about 10 women/girls to cut of the genital part of women. Sometimes it may cause infection and other related disease. FGM may result in continuous bleeding and death of many women. Circumcised women face complicated problem during labor and some of them loose their life during the process. And circumcised women and girls face a very series problem during urine. There are end less problems that women face as a result of FGM in Somali ethnic group.
Gender based violence is embedded in the context of cultural, socio-economic, and political power relations. These relations, in which male power dominates, reduce women to economic and emotional dependency, the property of some male protector. Therefore, women are subject to different types of violence depending on factors, such as income and consumption, social status, occupation ethnicity, religion and sexuality.
A woman of Somali faces discrimination as a woman and as a minority in the community. Women of Somali suffer from different types of violence because they are woman and they face this discrimination because they are from minority ethnic group in the county. Women of Somali lack access to different type of social service because they are women and they are from minority group. Moreover, they lack access to justice because they are women and they are from minority ethnic group. Women of Somali are minority within minority. To conclude women from Somali suffer from multiple form discrimination both as minorities and as women.
This is the violation of UN Declaration on the Right of persons belonging to National on Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities (Art 4(1), (4)(4) and International Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Art 5(b), 5(c), 5 (e) (iv,v,vi,) , Art 7
Article 35(1) of the Ethiopia’s Constitution recognizes that women shall enjoy equal rights & protections as men. In order to secure fairness and equality throughout the country, Ethiopia has taken various steps and has recognized various International Conventions based on the Declaration of Human Rights. These Declarations include the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Convention on Elimination of All Forms of discrimination Against Women (CEDW) and various Labor Conventions.
However the basic problem of violence against women in Ethiopia is the failure of practical applicability of the international Conventions, which are ratified by the country, and constitution and penal laws and family laws, which recognize gender equality.
1.UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons belonging to National or Ethic, Religious and linguistic Minorities.
Art. 4(1) States shall take measure required to ensure that persons belong to minorities may exercise fully and effectively all their human rights and fundamental freedoms without any discrimination and in full equality before the law.
Art. 4(4) States should, where appropriate, take measures in the field of education, in order to encourage knowledge of history ,traditions, language and culture of the minorities existing within their territory. Persons belonging to minorities should have adequate opportunities to gain knowledge of the society as a whole.
2. International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms Racial Discrimination.
Art 5(b) The right to security of person and protection by the state against violence or bodily harm, whether inflicted by government official or by any individual group or institution;
Art5(c) Political rights, in particular the right to participate in elections to vote and stand for election on the basis of universal and equal suffrage, to take part in the Government as well as in the conduct of public affairs at any level and to have equal access to public service;
Art5 (e) iv. The right to public health, medical care, social security and social services;
Art5 (e) vi. The right to equal participation in cultural activities;
To conclude, violence against Somali women results in low levels of education amongst women, low levels of decision-making, low levels of political participation. This will result in the discrimination and marginalization of women in every respect. This is one of the fundamental human rights violations .
Therefore, due to women’s disadvantageous position in society (eg. Financial dependence) and society’s distorted concept of women (eg. dependant of a male protector), women are unable to stand up for their rights and are vulnerable to various forms of violence and harmful traditional practices as women and as minorities. FGM affects the life and the health of Somali women and we urge immediate action.
I would like to make the following Recommendations on behalf of Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association: In this context women refer to minorities.