Somaliland government passes first ever anti-rape law

11th January 2018: After seven years of debate, the Somaliland parliament has passed a bill outlawing rape – the first law addressing gender-based violence in the state’s history. SRT grantee SIHA has worked on sexual violence in Somaliland since 2010, and its 2015 research on gang rape in Somaliland was one of very few advocacy papers tracking the escalation of sexual violence in the country. The research provided evidence for its members to undertake advocacy and has been crucial in bringing the issue to public and government attention.

SIHA’s report, The Other War: Gang Rape in Somaliland, documented the lives of women and girls in Somaliland, looking at gender relations and the inherited images of women’s subordination. It raised awareness of the prevalence of sexual violence, and helped strengthen civil society and government efforts to address the issue, in particular the absence of justice for victims and impunity for perpetrators.

In the past, local traditional law in Somaliland required a perpetrator of rape to marry his victim, causing great distress to victims and their families. Under the newly-passed law, however, convicted rapists will face up to 30 years’ imprisonment.

The bill has been agreed in the lower house of parliament, but still needs approval from the upper house. If it gets final approval, it is hoped that the president will sign it into law at the beginning of March 2018.

In a statement today, SIHA said, ‘With this overt victory for women both nationally in Somaliland and globally, SIHA calls on the Upper House of Elders (Guurti) and the Government’s final approval through the President of Somaliland to assent to the law and put it into effect as soon as possible […] SIHA remains committed to reproaching all forms of violence against women and girls, recognizing the need for long-term, persistent messaging to drive change in Somaliland and the Horn of Africa region.’

Full statement from SIHA’s website:

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