Somaliland on Saturday passed a law that would see rapists spend more than 20 years in prison, in what is seen as a historic move from the East African country.
Also included in the new legislation is criminalising trafficking for sexual slavery, forced marriage, and sexual harassment.
The Upper House voted the bill with 35 out of 50 votes in favour.
“This really is a historic law for Somaliland. For the first time potential rapists will be scared that they will be punished and end up in jail for years,” Ayan Mahamoud, Somaliland’s representative in Britain told Reuters
The country’s lower house passed the bill in January, which the newly elected President Musa Bihi Abdi is expected to sign into law within weeks.
Women rights group Nagaad welcomed the Upper Houses decision and insisted on the need for awareness creation and provision of resources to ensure implementation of the law.
The country of four million had not defined rape as a crime and in many cases, the perpetrators went scot free or paid a fee to the victim’s family. In other cases, the victims were forced to marry their rapists to avoid stigma and shame.