Kill that Bill, UN urges Somalia as some MPs seek to legalise child marriage

.The UN has for efforts to stop a bill seeking to legalise child marriage in Somalia from being passed by the country’s parliament noting the law violates international law.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet (pictured) said the Sexual Intercourse Related Crimes Law in Somalia   was a backward step in Somalia and risked promoting sexual offences in the country.

“Legislation drafted by parliamentarians in Somalia risks legitimizing child marriage, among other alarming practices, and must be prevented from passing into law,” said Bachelet

“Provisions of the Sexual Intercourse Related Crimes Law constitute serious breaches of international human rights norms and standards.”

The Commissioner’s remarks add to increasing local and international voices to stop the passage of the Bill which if passed will make child marriage legal.

Article 26 of the Bill which the Lower House seeks to pass having dropped the Sexual Offenses Bill tabled by Cabinet in 2018 reads thus:

Marriage agreement with a younger person is acceptable in Islam with the condition there will be no intercourse until the younger person (wife) reaches the age where she is capable of having intercourse. This is done to protect the health of the younger person (wife). During that time, if intercourse happens, the person (husband) who engages (has sex in such a marriage) with (his wife) will be punished for harming a young person (his wife).

The basic interpretation of this article is that child marriage can happen but such a marriage will not be consummated subject to the ability of the minor to engage in sexual intercourse; a scenario whose practicability is absurd.

“I strongly urge the Somali authorities to swiftly adopt the 2018 Sexual Offenses Bill, unanimously endorsed by the Council of Ministers, and put in place a comprehensive strategy and effective legislation to eliminate practices and harmful gender stereotypes that have a disproportionate negative impact on women and girls,” added Bachelet.


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