A Human Rights Watch report on the swaths of Somalia under the control of the Islamist militia al-Shabaab describes a life of atavistic brutality and religious extremism. Men have their heads shaved with broken bottles if their hair is too long, and cell phones with “western” musical ring tones are smashed by roving patrols of religious enforcers. Women, however, suffer most. Those who work selling tea in public are whipped. All must where an enveloping burka-like garment, the abaya, which not everyone can afford. One woman who chased her child into the street without it was flogged and then locked in a shipping container. According to another, who was not incarcerated but simply had to live in a community under al-Shabaab’s control: “I felt like I was in a jail.”
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