Step back in Somalia is going to legalize child marriagePictolic
The Somali Parliament is considering a bill that, in the opinion of the public, legitimized sexual violence against children. According to the law, girls can marry in the 11-12 years, and without asking their consent.
The Somali Parliament is considering amendments to the sexual offences act on regulation of marriage. If the amendments are accepted, girls can be married "as soon as their reproductive organs fully develop" — in other words, after the start of menstruation.
In addition, the consent of the bride is not going to matter if her parents agree to the marriage. These amendments will be a huge step backward, through many years of efforts to protect from violence women in one of the most conservative countries in the world, say activists.
According to the UN, today 45% of women in Somalia are married before reaching 18 years of age. Seven years ago, in 2013, Somalia has agreed to make changes to the legislation that will protect girls from forced marriage. Now, however, the Parliament decided to return to the more traditional Somali version of the regulation of unions.
According to the head of the UN human rights Michelle Bachelet, the current version of the law "legitimitize the marriage of children", and also sends a terrible signal to other countries in the region.
In Somalia itself, thousands of people are also protesting against changes to the law, putting the signature under the petition, offering to abandon the amendments. Social activists have accused the lawmakers of trying to "steal children's childhood, legalizing child marriage".
Violence against women is typical for Somalia. It is here that girls and women are often subjected to circumcision — almost all women Somalia once passed through this crippling practice. The new law was sent for consideration in a time when the pandemic coronavirus and the subsequent quarantine measures in Somali society, women are increasingly subjected to domestic violence, both physical and sexual.
The situation in Somalia exacerbate the incessant rains and floods. Flooded rivers forced thousands of people to flee from their homes in search of asylum. According to the latest data, in Somalia today, there are more than 100 thousand refugees who had to leave places due to the floods. Particularly affected the town of Afgoi, where entire neighborhoods were washed away from the face of the earth, and thousands of families were left homeless.