“Am I my sister’s keeper?” How do we respond to the stoning of Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow?


When he came home and the Lord asked him, “Where is your brother?” Cain answered that he didn’t know. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Gn. 4.9

I can’t stop thinking about the horror of the last few moments of 13 year old stoning victim Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow’s life. People I work with in the NGO community at the UN are struggling to come up with a response to this atrocity.

Somalia is in a state of anarchy. The Transitional Federal Government of Somalia is not in control of the country and could not have stopped the stoning. The situation of the international community is akin to living next to a family where the parents are completely messed up on drugs or whatever and are abusing their children. Obviously, reasoning with the parents won’t make any difference, nor will picketing outside their house, because the parents are too far gone to change their behavior on their own. Sending in a few bags of groceries once in a while won’t solve the problem either.

So far, the response of the international community to the ongoing violence in Somalia has been equivalent to these ineffectual actions. The UN and other humanitarian organizations make statements deploring what’s happening in Somalia, but the violence continues.

Last April when the Pope was at the UN, he said, “In the internal debates of the United Nations, increasing emphasis is being placed on the responsibility to protect. Indeed this is coming to be recognized as the moral basis for a governments claim to authority. It is also a feature that naturally appertains to a family, in which stronger members take care of weaker ones. This Organization performs an important service, in the name of the international community, by monitoring the extent to which governments fulfill their responsibility to protect their citizens.”

Then he challenged the UN to do more than just monitor, he declared that, “Every State has the primary duty to protect its own population from grave and sustained violations of human rights, as well as from the consequences of humanitarian crises, whether natural or man-made. If States are unable to guarantee such protection, the international community must intervene with the juridical means provided in the United Nations Charter and in other international instruments. The action of the international community and its institutions, provided that it respects the principles undergirding the international order, should never be interpreted as an unwarranted imposition or a limitation of sovereignty.”

The international community has a moral responsibility to intervene, just as we would to violence and abuse in our own neighborhoods.


2 thoughts on ““Am I my sister’s keeper?” How do we respond to the stoning of Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow?”

  1. I wrote about this also. It is a truly sad story and the world needs to hear it. We can not allow this kind of senseless brutality to continue against women and children. Thanks for writing about this.

  2. Aisha’s life and what happened to her was raised in art work at the Festival of Human Rights in Second Life in December, which attracted some 2500 people.

    I am writing to my member of parliament in the UK asking for the UK government to:
    – raise the issue of stopping stoning being legal in its bilateral negotiations with Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria (about one-third among 36 states), Pakistan, Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates
    -raise with the UN and seek a report ending this cruel punishment across the world?
    3. call on the Somalian government to take active steps to apprehend the men guilty of this crime against a child and bring them to justice?
    4. take steps to alert the expatriate Somali population in the UK not to contribute to fundraising for al-Shabab militia, given its horrific human rights record?

    Could we have vigils outside the foreign departments of each of our countries on 27th October to call for action on this point?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s