Somaliland has passed its first law against rape, in a bid by the new government of the breakaway region to crack down on violence against women, a senior official said on Wednesday.
Rape is not a criminal offense and perpetrators do not face any penalty in the self-declared republic of Somaliland, a conservative Islamic region in the Horn of Africa.
Instead, victims’ families are paid off or they are forced to marry their rapists to avoid public shame. The new law will punish rapists with up to 30 years imprisonment.
Ayan Mahamoud, Somaliland’s representative in Britain, said the law passed by the lower house of parliament on Monday still needed approval from the more conservative upper house.
“The bill had been languishing for some years and the newly elected government, which is very serious about tackling violence against women, saw it as a priority to bring it before parliament,” Mahamoud told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.