A call to Act: Involving Religious Leaders in Addressing Sexual Violence PDF Print


Religious leaders from different districts in Mogadishu came together to debate and discuss the role they play in regard to addressing sexual violence in their communities. The objective was to involve religious leaders in the champions for change group to raise awareness and educate the public on the stand of the Holy Quran and the Islamic teaching on sexual violence.


Religious leaders possess an ordained role of leadership in their institutions and communities: coordination with and training of religious leaders is an important component of a community response to sexual assault.  This is because religious leaders are uniquely situated to help foster within their congregations an environment in which sexual assault and other forms of violence can be discussed.

During the two day workshop the participants were able to mention harmful norms that happen every day in the community; and were able to identify that such violence happens as a result of lack of knowledge and the inability to differentiate between culture and religion. The leaders made a pledge to preach against harmful practices to the public.

A debate sparked amongst participants on the position of Islam on harmful social norms and how they would educate the public since most social norms are not religious norms.When it came to the relationship between the social norms and sexual violence, participants agreed that most of the harmful social norms contribute a great deal any kind of violence.

The participants could not come to a consensus on two issues; the right age for marriage and Female Genital Mutilation. Some had the impression that 14 years was the appropriate age for marriage while others suggested that 18 years was the appropriate age. On FGM, some leaders were of the opinion that it should be practiced, while others had the opinion that it should be stop. Finally, they agreed to disagree, and sought further clarification on the issue.


These leaders and their communities have the moral authority to raise awareness about sexual violence and a moral responsibility to prevent violence, provide support and care, and strive to transform societal or religious norms or practices that perpetuate such violence. the Leaders made a pledge to show their stand against harmful social norms and made it clear that they will not tolerate any kind of violence within the community. They also added that they will raise awareness within their families and community.




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