Ilhan Abdikadir Abdulahi is a journalist from Baidoa, Southwest, Somalia, and works for one of the local media in Baidoa. She shared her story with SOMWA, discussing challenges she faced in the media and when she quit her job after work-related sexual exploitation.
Ilhan started her journalistic career five years ago in Baidoa. She originally moved from Mogadishu, the capital city of Somalia, where she thought that the chances of her journalism would be very low.
My parents did not support me.
Ilhan stated that at the beginning of her journey, her family didn’t want her to be a journalist because they considered working in the media as a disgrace for a girl like her and tried so many times to stop her But Ilhan insisted on staying in the field.
“My parents used to get upset whenever they hear me on the Radio, or my neighbors told them that they heard me.” She said.
Sexual abuse in the workplace.
Obviously, Ilhan enjoys being a female reporter however, she had some obstacles that she could not cross. As a single mum with a child receiving her salary on time is always challenging for her in addition to her landlord who always demands to be paid rent on time.
One day she was desperate for her salary to be paid, as her landlord threatened her that he will evict her from the rented house if she doesn’t pay the bill in the same day.
“In Somalia, there are no laws that protect tenants, so landlords do whatever they want, so I went to see the Minister of information of Southwest and begged him to pay the rent from me. He was generous to pay the money and I was happy to be saved, nevertheless. In a few minutes, he called me several times on my phone and asked me to see him in his office. I went to see him, and he said to me now that I have paid your rent, I need you to sleep with me and if you keep doing that then, you will never have to worry about rent anymore. I refused him and quit my job at the state Tv and Radio job.” Ilhan said.
Ilhan has also highlighted that she has met a lot of female journalists that have experienced the same situation and advised them (female journalists who were abused in the media) to speak up and fight for their rights rather than watching and doing nothing.
SOMWA intends to conduct further investigation into accusations made against media officials by female journalists in the region and to hold them accountable for the alleged violations. SOMWA closely monitors the daily abuses of female reports in the country and attempted to contact the alleged minister who we cannot share his name with now for legal reasons. The alleged minister has denied the claims of sexual abuse in his office.
The number of sexual abuses against female journalists in Somalia increases every day and we call for all media owners and managers including government officials in Somalia to stop using their managerial power to manipulate and abuse the female journalists who are willing to perform their profession.