Beaten Because of Bras?

October 25, 2009
Last week, I was reading the news online when I came across the headline: "Somali Women Whipped For Wearing Bras." Needless to say, I was shocked, appalled, and seriously angry. How do people get off by inflicting pain on others because of clothing? What we wear is our choice and ours alone; no one else should have a say. These thoughts all rushed to my mind when first reading this article. But after I calmed down, I realized that this didn't happen in America; it was in Somalia; this changes everything.

I tried to forget it, but I kept imaging myself being publicly whipped for wearing a bra. So I wanted to know: Why did it happen? Why is this so bad? It shouldn't matter where we are in the world---the same rules should apply on this issue. Don't women deserve the right to dress themselves and feel comfortable?

But no matter how much I want this to be true, I know that in some places, it's not. Other countries have certain traditions or rules to adhere to, whether it be religion or culture or other things. I was curious about the topic, so I researched Somalia on the Internet.

For one, Somalia is located on the easternmost part of Africa, bordering the Indian Ocean. Actually, Somalia is the birthplace of Islam. For centuries, Islam has been perceived as a sacred religious institution. However, several of its followers have distorted and altered the teachings into their own interpretations. These people have convinced themselves and others, that what harmful acts they are doing, is what God would want.

The Somalia Islamists group, Al-Shabaab, is responsible for beating these women. In 2004, Al-Shabaab was formed after the loss of the Islamic Courts Union. The ICU was a group of Sharia courts who wanted to create a rival administration to the Transitional Federal Government---the Parliament of Somalia. In other words, the Al-Shabaab group was developed after the ICU failed to destroy Somalia's Parliament.

Al-Shabaab is the Youth Wing of the ICU; it's sort of like the "special forces." Al-Shabaab is radical and extreme. They are to blame for so many terrible things, such as abducting journalists, killing wounded soldiers, and harassing people. Al-Shabaab has also wreaked havoc twice in Mogadishu already this year. They carried out a suicide car bombing on an African army base in February, and now this whipping of women wearing bras.

It started out this way: Al-Shabaab sent gunmen into the streets of Mogadishu, looking for any women with a firm bust. Women were inspected to see if the firmness was natural, or from a bra. If found wearing a bra, the woman is ordered to remove it and shake out their breasts. Al-Shabaab’s reason for this act is that these women violated the Islamic law; wearing a bra is “deceptive.”

Al-Shabaab is a group dictatorship. They've already forbidden musical ringtones, movies, dancing at weddings, playing, and watching soccer. And now this? What point are they trying to make now? As of 2008, Somalia has topped the list of unstable nations; these countries are most at risk for failure rank by likelihood of collapse.

I’m a loss for words. (I mean, obviously not, otherwise I’d stop typing.) But for one thing, I’m glad that this didn’t happen in America; I feel so relieved. I wish I could say the same for the women and girls of Mogadishu. I can’t imagine how they must feel, uncomfortable in the streets where gunmen are inspecting their underclothes. I hope soon that this chaos with the ICU will end soon. In the meantime, I pray for Somalia.

Join the Discussion

This article has 9 comments. Post your own now!

RedFeather said...
Apr. 16, 2012 at 4:23 pm
Someone needs to beat some sense into those mongrals. If I could, I'd go over there and do some major butt-whooping myself, but I'm no Laura Croft.
CaseyLeigh This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 6, 2009 at 6:16 pm
Definitely an interesting and eye-opening article, with an original topic. The italics are somewhat distracting, but overall, well done. :]
Fayrouz This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 14, 2009 at 11:02 pm
First of all, Somalia is not the birthplace of Islam. That is not true. Second...i don't believe this.
*beautiful*spirit* This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 15, 2009 at 6:30 am
Okay. Actually, Islam's origin can be traced all the way back to the seventh century in Saudi Arabia. So, the birth of Islam is opposite the Red Sea; Somalian merchants/sailors who lived in the Arabian Peninsula brought Islam over to their own country.
*beautiful*spirit* This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 18, 2009 at 1:01 pm
And what don't you believe?
Fayrouz This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 30, 2010 at 6:45 pm
sorry for the long wait, but it is not against the religion of Islam for a woman to wear a bra. A bra conceals a woman's chest and keeps it from being in everyone's face. This group is not only ridiculous but before they starting telling others how to practice a religion, they should learn how to pracitice it themselves. As a Muslim, I find this disgusting and just plain awful. I am not blaming you because I did research this and it turns out, this truly did happen.
beautifulspirit This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Feb. 9, 2012 at 10:12 am
Sorry I didn't say this before. Thank you both for your feedback on my article~
Veronica S. replied...
Apr. 14, 2012 at 8:58 am
Being raised by a Christian mother, and Muslim father, I find this article to be very informative and for the most part accurate (except for the part where you said Somalia is where Islam originated). The few muslims I know obviously don't have this distorted image of what the Islamic religin should be, but for example, they don't listen to music because they believe it will distract them from what's important, God. Also, even though it is done in a much less strict and harmful enviroment, they ... (more »)
beautifulspirit This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 14, 2012 at 9:27 am
First of all, welcome to Teenink! I noticed that you're new from your page. It's been a while since someone has commented on this article---my first one. I wasn't sure how it came across to others, but I'm glad you found it informative. Feel free to check out my other stuff and I look forward to reading yours as well.
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