The headline pretty much says it all, unfortunately: “Somalia bans swimming for women at beach.” The article continues, noting:
Sheikh Farah Ali Hussein, chair of a northern Mogadishu Islamic court, said Friday that the ban applies only to the northern Mogadishu Leedo beach, where families usually go on weekends to play and relax. “We stopped women from swimming because it is against the teaching of Islam for women to mingle with men, especially while they are swimming,” Hussein said.
I realize that in the grand scheme of things, one’s ability to swim at the beach is a relatively minor matter. As an offense, this doesn’t come close to the big violations that occur regularly in Somalia. Somalia is, after all, a land without effective government; run by warlords and Islamists; the location of frequent and grave human rights violations. These are the kinds of serious and somber charges that we hear so often that they threaten to generate listener fatigue.
Against that backdrop, I think, it can be useful to point out small things, sometimes. After all, there’s something deeply repulsive about a society that would deny its women not only effective political participation or much in the way of human rights, but also so simple and innocuous a pleasure as the ability to go to the beach.