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Fatuma Noor

Fatuma Noor

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Kenya: I was told that I deserved to die—for being a female journalist

Sun, 2011-08-07 14:28 by Hans

Fatuma Noor wins top journalism prize

As a Somali woman writing investigative stories, I face regular threats and my family's opposition

Fatuma Noor
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 3 July 2011

Read the complete article at guardian.co.uk
Kenyan journalist wins CNN 2011 award in postzambia.com
My Encounter with American-Somali Jihadist in Nairobi in nairobistar.com—her article that won her the prize.

It's not always easy being a female investigative journalist, even in the west. But imagine going to do an interview and not being able to shake hands with the interviewee or indeed even being able to sit in front of him to ask questions.

In Somali culture—I grew up in a Somali family in Kenya—it is wrong to speak and raise an opinion in front of men or even to shake hands with a man of no relation to you. Even travelling for work unaccompanied by a relative is not permitted.

Somewhere on the Kenyan-Somali border, a Somali woman was chosen to be a town chief, but she fled from the town because of violent opposition from the elders. As a journalist, I tried to get comments from the Somali elders, but they then turned on me and threatened to punish me also.

The women who attempt leadership positions or take on roles such as journalism are often intimidated and many end up giving up the profession at the early stages of their career. Political instability and extremist groups in Somalia have posed an even greater challenge, with the introduction of strict sharia. These hardline groups even disapprove of women working in informal markets or within women's organisations.

Coming from a conservative Somali background, my parents, who buy and sell clothes, refused to fund my journalism course but were ready to pay for any other. (The need to meet and talk to men was, for them, the major problem with journalism.) Three years down the line, my choice still causes a strained relationship with the family. In a way, one could understand their reasons – as a female journalist, you face regular threats and intimidation.

I have had more than a few of those in my short career as a journalist. One time I did a story about a Somali woman …

Read the complete article at guardian.co.uk
Kenyan journalist wins CNN 2011 award in postzambia.com
My Encounter with American-Somali Jihadist in Nairobi in nairobistar.com—her article that won the prize.