Somalia considers bill allowing child marriage

Updated: 13 August, 2020 09:07 IST | Agencies | Johannesburg

The UN mission to Somalia in a separate statement has called the new bill "deeply flawed" and urged parliament to re-introduce the original one

A girl gets water from a water tap at a camp in Somalia. File pic/AFP
A girl gets water from a water tap at a camp in Somalia. File pic/AFP

An outcry is rising in Somalia as parliament considers a bill that would allow child marriage once a girl's sexual organs mature and would allow forced marriage as long as the family gives consent. It is a dramatic reworking of years of efforts by civil society to bring forward a proposed law to give more protections to women in one of the world's most conservative countries.

The new Sexual Intercourse Related Crimes Bill "would represent a major setback in the fight against sexual violence in Somalia and across the globe" and should be withdrawn immediately, the United Nations special representative on sexual violence in conflict, Pramila Patten, said.

Somalia in 2013 agreed with the UN to improve its sexual violence laws, and after five years of work a sexual offenses bill was approved by the Council of Ministers and sent to parliament. But last year the speaker of the House of the People sent the bill back "in a process that may have deviated from established law" asking for "substantive amendments," the UN special representative said.

The UN mission to Somalia in a separate statement has called the new bill "deeply flawed" and urged parliament to re-introduce the original one. That original bill "will be vital in preventing and criminalizing all sexual offenses," the Somalia representative for the UN Population Fund, Anders Thomsen, said.

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First Published: 13 August, 2020 07:37 IST

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