Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 1st March 2012.

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Photo of Jo Swinson Jo Swinson Liberal Democrat, East Dunbartonshire

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on the rights of women in Somalia; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Henry Bellingham Henry Bellingham The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office receives regular reports on the parlous state of women's rights in Somalia. Somalia is widely regarded as being one of the worst places in the world to be a woman, not only because they are widely excluded from politics, or because of the continued practice of female genital mutilation, but because maternity health care is very limited, meaning that many women die needlessly in childbirth. The humanitarian crisis caused by last year's drought in the Horn of Africa has increased the vulnerability of women to sexual violence by predatory armed groups.

In the run up to the London Conference on Somalia, I personally met a number of women activists to hear their views. The conference communiqué called for women's inclusion in the political process, and for action to address the grave human rights violations suffered by women in particular. We stand ready to work with the Transitional Federal Government and other Somali partners to implement these commitments.

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