Puntland proposes new law for rape offenders

Justice ministry of the semi-autonomous regional state of Puntland has proposed law that would ensure a measure of justice for survivors of sexual violence.

The ministry said Sexual Offenses Bill, which would be the state’s first comprehensive law on sexual violence, still faces enormous impediments to submit the parliament and even greater impediments to implementation.

Speaking at a ceremony held in Garowe, the administrative capital of Puntland, Women affairs minister, Anisa Abdikadir Mumin for her part, said Sexual violence is widespread in Somalia and rarely prosecuted.

“We want the prosecution to make sure that rape is not dealt with under the traditional resolution mechanism” Mumin said in urging the bill’s passage. “It has to be a crime that has been committed against the state so that it will not be possible for them to take it out of the court systems to deal with it at clan level/customary law.”

Despite the prevalence of sexual violence, as well as the stigma and shame that frequently follow, Mumin said raped women have seen some modest improvement in recent years.

“Rape is not getting less, but people are talking about it,” she said.

Somalia’s draft constitution includes provisions for new laws on rape, sexual violence and female genital mutilation, and sets the minimum age for marriage at 18. But political progress is slow, and the legislation is yet to be passed.

Like much else that is broken in Somalia, the causes of the pervasive rape can be found in the decades of anarchic conflict that began in 1991 and continues in some parts of the country today.

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