Somaliland, the autonomous nation, which declared itself independent from Somalia in 1991 has made a bold move that is commendable in this time of the global #MeToo/#TimesUp movements, that is also drawing a critical eye on African policy in this area.
Leaders of the small nation of 4 million residents have set a precedence in its country by passing its first law against rape. Yesterday, lawmakers made rape a criminal offence punishable with at least 30 years in jail. Formerly, rape was a matter of customary law discussed outside of the public space where some victims’ family even forced them to marry their rapists to avoid being shamed.
As BBC reports, Somaliland’s speaker of parliament, Bashe Mohamed Farah, explained the rationale behind the new law as follows: “Nowadays we have seen even people carrying out gang rapes,” he said.”The main emphasis of the new act is to completely stop rape.”
In fact, CNN, among other publications, reported that drought in the nation had severally exacerbated rape and gender-based violence in the last few years. This response, then, is timely.
Faisa Ali Yusuf of the Women’s Agenda Forum confirmed and told BBC that, “they have been waiting for such legislation for a very long time”.
Somaliland continues its fight to be recognized as an independent state of Somalia, where there is no law against rape.
See some public reactions commending the self-declared independent country:
Congratulations to Somaliland Parliament: #Somaliland Parliament passed new law which takes rape out from costomery law. from now on only criminal court is allowed to deal with rape cases.
— Mukhtar Maal (@Mini_maal) January 9, 2018
— Hussein Al-Ishaqi (@HMussaUK) January 9, 2018
— Hamza Mohamed (@Hamza_Africa) January 8, 2018