Where there is poverty, there are all sorts of problems. With poverty, instability comes. With poverty, alienation of basic human rights comes. When the rule of law is not enacted sufficiently or not at all, the logic tells you to expect anything bad to happen. When you live in a place where everyone is pursuing his/her interest freely by deploying any method that deems right to him/her, and there is no demarcation between the contrasting interests of individuals in the society, it is not difficult to comprehend that confrontation, exploitation and repression among the members of the society are going to be routinely the norm. Abnormality becomes a matter of perspective. Those who have the desired features and power to survive in such a hostile environment, are the only ones who are bound to exist at the expense of others. All the weak and vulnerable groups like women and children have to face a bad fate where they are forced to let others use and exploit them.
As the development of a country _be it political, economic or social_ improves, the standard of living increases, people become more empowered to claim and have their rights satisfactorily. Social safety and security which come with the foundation of strong political and social institutions are the primary keys to the formation of an enabling environment in which individuals thrive and co-exist with equality and equity, and in which members of the society accept multiculturalism so-that they put their focus on their shared values and commonalities, instead of exaggerating the differences between them.
A society that has no legal framework or does not apply its legal framework for resolving its social problems is obviously doomed to fail. All human and animal sufferings are inevitable in such society not governed by rules. It becomes a shelter for all the evil and a living hell for all the good. When there are no strong repercussions and retributions in place for perpetrators and culprits of social crimes, criminal wrongdoings will evolve to malignancy.
This holds the future of any society with no legal mechanism to maintain social order, bleak and uncertain. Rationality is lost by the loss of justice and the lack of effective rule of law. Everyone resorts to whatever necessary to make adaptation in such chaotic and unforgiving environment. The good is forced to forget about being respectful and caring and eventually the whole society becomes fraught with villains and people counteracting like villains to ensure their compatibility with the persisting wrong social system-at least- for the sake of perpetuating their existence. The later individuals strongly believe and live up to the philosophy of the English proverb which says “If you are in Rome, do what the Romans do” and this is the reason as to why almost everyone in the Somali society seems as equally bad as others.
Having said that, let me put my focus on Somalia as a perfect example for the state I described in the above preliminary paragraphs in general terms. Somalia, as a country, is more of a failed state who is just existing by name. Even someone can argue, the political system that is in practice in the country today is more or less “ Anarchism” where people are freely and constantly organizing and reorganizing themselves in groups of shared values and interest, existing parallel to one another and sometimes having head-on collision on their interests subsequently resulting in fighting and relentless civil war. In the case of no proper legal entities or whatsoever to enhance and protect human rights, survival of the fittest theory is put into practice. Those privileged groups with the ability and capacity to survive become the favour of nature while the other underprivileged groups suffer in the hands of the powerful groups subsequently find themselves marginalized and socially excluded.
Two of the most vulnerable groups in Somalia today are women and children. They constitute the largest portion of the Somali society who has been enduring in a lawless state for the last 25 years. When the last abusive regime of Somalia had collapsed in 1991, the country disintegrated into clan-based, territorial and political small rival factions ruled by socially-destructive tribal politicians. Some of the problems which women are faced with, on the basis of their vulnerable gender, include high maternal mortality rate, medium prevalence of rape, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and the likes. On the other hand, children who are the second most vulnerable group in Somalia are susceptible to child labour, poor nutrition and high infant mortality rate.
According to a report released by UNICEF, more than 43% of Somalis live in abject poverty. 50% of the labour force are unemployed. In general a very significant number of the population (almost half) don’t have the basic necessities of life like food, water, shelter, education and healthcare. The existence of extreme general poverty combined with the lack of powerful central government in Somalia at large, is making human life difficult for all and extremely difficult for the powerless minority. Women and children lack the physical strength and power to protect their rights when war breaks out and violence erupts. When men and women face each other in the state of nature, where the strongest dominates the other, there is no doubt that women are outperformed in physical confrontation. Therefore in Somalia where physical might is used to subjugate one another, rights of the minority groups like women and children are abused frequently. They become repeatedly a subject to exploitation and modern enslavement.
In conclusion, Somalia as a country faces existential threat posed by lack of rule of law, the prevalence of violence, and the perennial drought that claims both human and animal lives. Severe drought that occurs almost every two years in an extensive area of the country have a far-reaching socio-economic cost. Livestock makes the backbone of Somalia’s economy, and without it, the self-sustainability of the country will be at jeopardy. To make it simple, the country is torn apart and devoured by civil wars, extreme poverty and lack of effective legal framework. Unless these three factors that beget all other social problems are eliminated or atleast reduced to an acceptable level, Somalia will be a symbol for failure and backwardness forever.
By Abdifatah A. Muhumed (Caaliyal Hima)