30 January 2016

Young Somali activist sentenced to death for being a lesbian

When the boy came into the room, his eyes brimmed with tears. The news he brought was devastating. “They are talking about killing you,” he told his older cousin.

Using a phone smuggled into her room, Sahra (whose name has been changed here over concerns for her safety) sent a despairing plea for help to friends on the outside. Although she didn’t know it then, her killing was thought to have been scheduled to take place after Friday prayers two days later, and time was running out.

Sahra, a 22-year-old Somali woman, remembers swaying with shock as she received the news. “I felt like I couldn’t breathe. One day they were looking for a guy for me to marry, the next they were looking to take my life,” she recalls. “It was horrible.”

In the eyes of her extended family, Sahra had brought shame on them all. From her family’s self-imposed exile in Uganda, she had long courted controversy as an outspoken advocate for women’s rights. But her personal safety took a turn for the worse when she was outed as a lesbian, setting in motion events that caused her to move to Mogadishu in Somalia, leaving her open to the wrath of her relatives. [The Independent] Read more