April 20th, 2009
Women in Somali city ordered to cover up or head to jail
Posted: 01:43 PM ET
(CNN) — Women in Somalia’s third-largest city, Baidoa, have been ordered to wear Islamic dress starting this week or face jail time, according to a resident and Somali media reports.The order — issued last week by Al-Shabaab, the radical Islamist militia that controls the city — also warns business owners to close their shops during daily prayers or their businesses will be temporarily shut down, a local journalist said.
The militia has ordered women to cover their body and head from view, according to a resident of Baidoa who did not want to be identified for security reasons. The clothing must be black, red or white, and women in the impoverished city are concerned they will not be able to purchase clothing that conforms to the order, the resident said.
He said women would be jailed if they violated the order after it goes into effect on Tuesday. Somalia’s Shabelle Media — quoting an Al-Shabaab spokesman — said they would spend 12 hours in jail.
Shabelle points out that it is unclear how Al-Shabaab will enforce its order in Baidoa. The militia in the past has issued similar edicts that failed to be carried out, according to Shabelle.
But this edict could be bolstered by Somalia’s parliament, which voted unanimously on Saturday to allow Islamic law in the Horn of Africa country. Lawmakers hope to boost President Sharif Ahmed’s efforts to defeat Al-Shabaab, which has vowed to fight the government until sharia is imposed in Somalia.