Hamda had only been married three days when her husband started beating her. Just eighteen years old, Hamda had moved to Somaliland from Ethiopia with her four-year-old son, Fattxi. She married in the hope of being able to support him – but her husband didn’t like that she’d had a child in a previous marriage. He used to goad her about Fattxi, and this escalated into violent beatings.

He broke my arm when I was preparing some food for him. He also kicked me in the stomach twice only a few months after I had a miscarriage.


Hamda had no family in Somaliland to turn to, but after many months a friend took her to see a volunteer from a women’s rights coalition in her community.

“I showed her how bad my injuries were,” said Hamda. “I had two black eyes and bite marks on my shoulder. I couldn’t walk properly because my leg was injured.”

The volunteer took Hamda and her son to a branch of a women’s rights organisation called WAAPO(Women’s Action for Advocacy and Progress Organisation), who gave her shelter in a safe house. Now Hamda’s focus is on getting a divorce from her husband. She said the safe house has been lifesaving for her and Fattxi.

“I see all women as my sisters because I am a woman too.”

WAAPO works throughout Somaliland to eliminate all forms of violence against women. As well as running safe houses to protect at-risk women, they empower women in the country to help others by training them as leaders and campaigners. They’re a partner organisation of ActionAid Somaliland.

Nimah is one of the women trained by WAAPO, and now runs a women’s coalition in her area. They support domestic violence survivors in their community, giving them access to safe houses as well as helping with legal and emotional support.

“Sometimes we tell the survivor ‘you will be okay, everything is going to be okay.’ For younger women who have no idea what her future will hold and continue to suffer, we help them to feel calm again.”

She said angry husbands often tell her not to interfere, and one man even threatened her with rape. But she continues her life-saving work despite the danger to herself. She told us:

I see all women as my sisters because I am a woman too. So when one woman is having her rights violated, I feel it personally. I feel my rights are being violated too. When I see a man beating his wife, I feel like he is beating me. I can’t tolerate it if a woman is beaten.


n 2015, 200 countries signed up to a goal on ending violence against women by 2030. Supporting independent women’s rights organisations like WAAPOwould help make this a reality. In fact, the work of organisations like WAAPO was found to be the single most effective way of ending violence against women. Yet they are chronically underfunded.

We’re standing with women like Hamda and Nimah.

Join our campaign today


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