The first bill to define and address sexual crimes in Somalia is to be brought to the cabinet before the month, updating legislation that’s been in place since 1930.
One-third of sex crimes committed in the country are committed against children.
The bill will define rape as a crime against a person, rather than a crime against morality, as it characterised at present. It will criminalise gang rape and introduce legislation against child marriage, human trafficking, sexual harassment and offences committed against vulnerable groups such as internally displaced people.
The new law will also outline the role public officials and police should play in investigating and prosecuting cases, in addition to criminalising the obstruction of justice, protecting the identity of injured parties and witnesses, and – in a major shift for Somalia’s clan-based society – prohibiting the out-of-court settlement of sexual offences cases.
The legislation does not go far enough. It does not address marital rape or domestic violence, which is widespread in the country.