In July 1992 nine shiftas with guns came into my house at night. They were wearing black trousers, black jackets and hats pulled low. I did not know them. They all had guns and big boots like soldiers. They pulled my arms behind my back and tied my hands. They told me not to scream and pushed knives into my upper arms and head, They kicked me with their boots. They told me to give them all the money I had. I traded at the market during the day and they must have followed me to know where I stay After they tied and cut me I gave them the money which I had buried in a safe place. Then three of the men caught me and dragged me into my home and raped me. One man raped me while another held a gun at my head and told me he would kill me if I made a noise. My daughter of 10 years woke up and cried and they beat her on the head with guns. Up to today she has [mental] problems [and chronic ear infections]. I tried to shout but the shiftas shot in the air and so people ran away

Terrified by the attack, Bishaw and her family moved to another location in the hope that the attack would be the last. Bishaw, however; was targeted a second time by shiftas in August 1992.

They came back again in the middle of the night. This time with more men – so many men I couldn’t count. Four of them came into the house while the others guarded outside. My friend was sleeping in the house as well as two of my children. Both of us had been raped before. This time they did not beat me. They came into the tent and told us to give them all our money from the market. I think they knew me from the market. We gave them the money. After that two of the men raped me, and the other two raped my friend. Then we heard a shout outside and they all ran away.

The third time I was raped was in March 1993. It was just as I was eating the dawn breakfast in Ramadan. I saw about 40 men with guns. Six of them came into the hut and took my money. I didn’t know any of them. They were not wearing uniform. Thankfully they didn’t beat or hurt me – but two of the men raped me.

Bishaw reported each of the rapes and robbery to the police at Ifo. After taking a statement, the police took no further action. (Interview, Marafa camp, Kenya, 23 July 1993)

Source:Africa Watch Women’s Rights Project, Seeking Refuge, Finding Terror – The Widespread Rape of Somali Women Refugees in North Eastern Kenya, 4 October l993,Vol.5, No.13, pp 9-18. Names of the women were changed by Africa Watch to protect their identity.