Employers Demand Physical Relationship from Somali Female Jobseekers

Mogadishu ( PP Features Desk) – Already grappling with crippling unemployment Somali women face a starker challenge in the labour market of their homeland. Some employers demand physical relationship from female job applicants in exchange for a job.

5TV  has interviewed a 19-year-old Somali girl in Mogadishu whose experience in navigating the labour market in the capital city beggars belief.

The female applicant applied for a cleaning job with one of the universities in Mogadishu. The employer promised to recruit her if she “agrees to his proposal to have his carnal desire satisfied by her.”

“I was shocked at his demand,” the girl told 5TV. The girl’s divorced mother is stranded in war-torn Sana’a, Yemen. She lives with her father and  stepmother. “Living with a stepmother is challenging and  that is why I had to look for a job,” she said.

Somali women face discrimination from private sector employers in Mogadishu 

The experience of the Somali girl brings to light the fact that the society is unaware that sexual predators in well-regarded institutions prey upon vulnerable job-seeking Somali girls. She applied for another cleaning job with a major Mogadishu-based company. The HR Officer was more honest with her about what she will encounter at the workplace if she joins the staff. “Somali and non-Somali men can grab any part of your body or fondle you at work. This job will damage your reputation,” the HR Officer told the job-seeking girl. The girl did not accept the conditional job offer.  

Somali women face widespread discrimination in the labour market. Monopolistic businesses and patriarchal tradition made worse by post-1991 identity politics conspire to put women at disadvantage when seeking gainful employment.  

The gradual recovery of Somalia from the civil war would not have been possible had not Somali women assumed the role of the breadwinner after the state collapse and attendant displacements from 1991. 

Somalia does not have a law barring employers from discriminating against employees or job applicants. The absence of such a law predisposes some employers to use their position and power to try to pressure female job applicants into sexual relationship. “There is no an equal opportunity employment policy to which employers subscribe,” says a Ahmed Said, a Somali lawyer in Mogadishu.

Somali women have less than 30% representation in the Federal Parliament and the Upper House. “Proposing and passing a law against employment discrimination should be made the legislative agenda of the current or  the next Parliament and the Upper House,” added Said.  

© Puntland Post, 2020