Somalia: This 100% female media wants to break the taboos of a patriarchal and conservative society

Smartphones and laptops to break taboos: a new media composed of a 100% female team aims to highlight the situation of women, and in particular the hidden subject of gender-based violence, in the very conservative Somali society.

The six journalists from Bilan Media (“bilan” means “beauty” in Somali) are all under 28 years old and have broadcast their video programs for three months on Dalsan, the Mogadishu radio and television station that hosts them, and on social networks. social.

Among these few topics is an interview with one of the few female politicians in Somalia, the former Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Fawzia Yusuf Adan, a report on the health situation of women in a IDP camp, another on a young girl who became a mother at 16 and goes back to school…

So many unusual topics in the media of this country in the Horn of Africa with a patriarchal, religious and conservative society.

“About 80% of our programs will focus on topics that people might find outrageous. Society needs to be aware of these stories”told AFP Nasrin Mohamed Ibrahim, who leads the summit of his 21 years this media funded by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

Interview, editorial, presentation: at Bilan Media, the six journalists, previously all for the local media, take care of everything.

“Same pain”

But convincing people to share their stories on sensitive topics such as gender-based violence remains a challenge in Somalia.

The country has no vice law, a draft of which has been pending since 2014. Offenders are rarely prosecuted or punished and victims are often stigmatized when they dare to speak out.

However, having an all-female team can be an advantage, the head of Bilan Media believes.

“The information that can be gathered from a mother whose daughter was raped may not be accessible to male journalists because this mother will trust female journalists more”Nasrin Mohamed Ibrahim points out: “As women, we feel the same pain.”

She wants to guide a certain change of mentality that she sees taking place in the country.

“Many women want to tell their story to seek justice”says Nasrin Mohamed Dahir, citing a case of alleged gang rape and murder of a young woman in Mogadishu that she was handling in 2020.

“His parents decided to talk about it. I interviewed his father myself and the case is still pending.”she explains, citing other examples of families refusing to be silenced by social stigma.

“If all these relatives had not decided to speak out publicly, the victims would have been buried without justice being served.”she points out.

“We recently did a story about a 16-year-old single mother,” says the youngest member of the team, 19-year-old Shukri Mohamed Abdi. “She is back to school to continue her studies and we have presented the difficulties she is experiencing and her ambitions for the future”.

“People appreciate stories like this because it discourages child marriage”she believes.

“Something special”

For Hafsa Abdulaziz, a mother of two living in Mogadishu, Bilan Media “something special”.

“There are so many heartbreaking stories of broken families that you don’t hear about in the mainstream media”underlines this woman who has viewed several reports on their Facebook page.

But some view the move with suspicion.

“Frankly, I doubt the motives of this Bilan Media. All journalists are women and they only do programs (…) about women. They may be trying to push women against men.”says Abdullahi Adan, a university graduate looking for a job in the Somali capital.

It will take time to get things done, but”nothing comes without a challenge, so when you’re talking about (producing) programs like this, you have to be ready for the challenges”confirms Nasrin Mohamed Ibrahim, repeating his creed: “We can do everything men can do, or even better.”


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