Somalia: Women 'take weapons' to beach for protection

A woman holds a machete as she enjoys the surf with a friend and two children at Lido beach

Somali women have taken to carrying weapons to the beach to ward off sexual harassment, it's reported.

They're plagued by men at the Lido resort, in the capital Mogadishu, according to the Garoweonline website. Describing the beach's "buzzing and pulsating atmosphere", the report says many women come with families, while others sell ice cream or drinks. It quotes one woman as saying they're always pestered by "rude men" and are often offended, angered or sexually harassed. Extra police have been deployed to the resort to protect young women, says the news outlet, based in the semi-autonomous Puntland region.

Sexual violence has been a growing problem in Somalia in recent years, with some of the 1.1 million people displaced by conflict - and often living in tarpaulin shacks - particularly at risk. Despite this, the authorities and media have been accused of not taking rape seriously. The founder of the Sister Somalia organisation, which runs a rape crisis centre in Mogadishu, told al-Jazeera news in January that it dealt with up to seven new victims a week. The UN recorded 1,700 rapes in the capital's 500 camps last year, many thought to have been carried out by security forces.

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