For the first time in its history, the self-declared republic of Somaliland has passed a law against rape.
In the past, a victim’s family could force them to marry their rapist to avoid being shamed.
Rapists now stand to face at least 30 years in prison.
The newly approved Bill doesn’t cover FGM. We shall work towards approving a legislation ending FGM. I commend the HoR for approving the Rape and Other Related Offenses Bill. To become a law, it requires the Upper House to approve before the President signs it into law.
— Guleid Ahmed Jama (@GuleidJ) January 8, 2018
Somaliland declared itself independent from Somalia in 1991 but is not internationally recognised as a country. There is still no law against rape in Somalia.
Somaliland’s speaker of parliament, Bashe Mohamed Farah, told the BBC that rape cases have risen and he hoped the new law would help stop that trend.
#Somaliland parliament on 7th Jan. 2018 passed a law criminalizing gender-based violence (GBV) ( FGM )We need help on capacity building from our international partners & training for our law enforcement agencies @AkEnestrom @AUexkull @JimYongKim @RoryStewartUK @FedericaMog @VP pic.twitter.com/whLuXExGT0
— Abdiqani Mahamoud (@AbdiqaniMin) January 8, 2018
“Nowadays we have seen even people carrying out gang rapes,” he said.
“The main emphasis of the new act is to completely stop rape.”
The new law has come in after years of lobbying by children and women’s rights advocates.
Faisa Ali Yusuf of the Women’s Agenda Forum told the BBC they have been waiting for such legislation for a very long time.
Human Rights Centre warmly welcomes the House of Representative’s approval of the Rape and Other Related Offences Bill. We urge the Upper House to also approve it immediately. When it becomes a law, it will help victims of rape and other sexual offences.
— Human Rights Centre (@hrcsomaliland) January 8, 2018
The BBC’s Anne Soy explains that the new law comes within the context of the self-declared republic being keen to be seen internationally as a viable democracy with functioning institutions.