Recent developments in Somalia have been part amusing and part dehumanizing. Al-shabaab, Somalia's extremist group that evolved after the departure of the Ethiopian army has come up with a decree that is causing much harm to the women of Mogadishu. Any woman found to show a bust of flesh on her chest risks harassment, humiliation, and even whipping in public. While women accused of witchcraft in India risk being forcefully fed with human excrement or animal culae, those of Somalia suffer novel fatwas issued by zealots whose agendas remain a mystery.
The fatwas of Al-shabaab have become so agonizing that it is the residents of Mogadishu who mostly bear the brunt of every new decree. Recently, the extremist group ordered all women to wear a specially designed hijab available from select stores or else suffer the consequences. The stores where these types of veils are available are owned by Al-shabaab businessmen and obviously there is a brisk hijab business.
Often women find themselves stopped along alleyways, in the markets, in public transportation, even within the vicinity of their own premises by masked men serving as Al-shabaab's law enforcers. They find themselves humiliated in front of their brothers, children, fathers, and even husbands without just cause. The crimes Somali women commit today has nothing to do with felony or misdemeanor. It always has to do with mode of dress and nothing else.