All under the age of 28, the six journalists from Bilan Media (“bilan” means “beauty” in Somali) have been broadcasting their video programs for three months on Dalsan, the Mogadishu radio and television channel that hosts them, and on social networks. social.
Among these few subjects, there is an interview with one of the few female politicians in Somalia, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister Fawzia Yusuf Adan, a report on the health situation of women in a camp for displaced persons, another on a young girl who became a mother at 16 and who is going back to school…
So many unusual subjects in the media of this country in the Horn of Africa with a patriarchal, religious and conservative society.
“About 80% of our programs will focus on subjects that people may find scandalous. Society must be informed of these stories,” Nasrin Mohamed Ibrahim, who heads the 21-year-old media outlet, told AFP. the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
Interview, editing, presentation: at Bilan Media, the six journalists, all previously working for local media, take care of everything.
– “The same pain” –
But convincing people to share their stories on sensitive topics like gender-based violence remains a challenge in Somalia.
The country has no sexual offenses law, a draft of which has been pending since 2014. Perpetrators are rarely prosecuted or punished and victims are often stigmatized when they dare to speak out.
However, having an all-female team can be an advantage, believes the head of Bilan Media.
“The information that can be collected from a mother whose daughter has been raped may not be accessible to male journalists because this mother will have more confidence in female journalists”, emphasizes Nasrin Mohamed Ibrahim: “As women, we feel the same pain.”
She wants to accompany a certain change in mentalities that she sees taking place in the country.
“Many women want to tell their story to seek justice,” says Nasrin Mohamed Dahir, referring to a case of alleged gang rape and murder of a young woman in Mogadishu that she covered in 2020.
“His parents decided to talk about it. I interviewed his father myself and the case is now in court,” she explains, citing other examples of families refusing to be reduced. silenced by social stigma.
“If all these parents had not decided to speak publicly, the victims would have been buried without justice being done,” she said.
“We recently did a report on a 16-year-old single mother,” said the youngest member of the team, Shukri Mohamed Abdi, 19: “She went back to school to continue her studies and we presented the difficulties it is experiencing and its ambitions for the future”.
“People appreciate stories like this because it discourages child marriage,” she said.
– “Something special” –
For Hafsa Abdulaziz, a mother of two who lives in Mogadishu, Bilan Media brings “something special”.
“There are so many heartbreaking stories about broken families that you don’t hear about in the mainstream media,” said the woman who watched several reports on their Facebook page.
But some see the approach with suspicion.
“Frankly, I doubt the motivations of this Bilan Media. All the journalists are women and they only make programs (…) on women. They are perhaps trying to push women to oppose men” , says Abdullahi Adan, a university graduate looking for a job in the Somali capital.
It will take time to get things done, but “nothing comes without a challenge, so when you talk about (producing) programs like this, you have to be ready for challenges”, says Nasrin Mohamed Ibrahim, repeating his credo: “We can do anything that men can do, or even do it even better.”