CALL TO ACTION: Eliminating And Preventing the Violence Against Women in Somaliland

Saturday December 16, 2023 - 12:39:34
Hargeisa- Five women-led organisations issued a joint statement about GBV in Somaliland.

The statement reads as follows:

Somaliland's women's rights activists express their concern over the rising instances of Violence against women and girls (VAWG), whether public, private or online in the country and the lack of efforts to address the underlying causes. The constitution of Somaliland ensures equality and prohibits discrimination. According to Article 36(2) of the constitution, the government shall "legislate for the right of women to be free of practices which are contrary to Sharia and which are injurious to their person and dignity." However, the legal and judicial system in Somaliland has not effectively and efficiently protected women and girls from VAWG. Despite the constitution being approved by the public two decades ago, necessary reforms and changes have not been implemented. Unfortunately, many perpetrators of Gender Based Violence (GBV) go unpunished and enjoy impunity. Reporting of such violence is low due to significant barriers. Moreover, the laws of Somaliland inadequately address GBV, as the outdated Penal Code of 1962 fails to provide justice to survivors, and the 2018 Sexual Offences Act was unconstitutionally suspended.

We urge the government of the Republic of Somaliland to fulfil its constitutional duty and take decisive actions to address GBV with sincerity and dedication. In addition, we call upon the government of Somaliland to address the root causes contributing to GBV, including gender stereotypes, pervasive gender inequality, widening economic disparities, and harmful beliefs and practices. Addressing these issues necessitates comprehensive reforms across governmental and social institutions, spanning from the education sector to the structure of governance. Specifically, it is crucial to empower women by providing them with leadership roles, decision-making authority, and meaningful participation in policy and law formulation. Superficial changes and empty promises are insufficient; substantial transformations are required to bring about lasting change. We also call for increasing access to finance and employment. The number of women graduating from universities in Somaliland is on the rise. For instance, this year, more than half of the graduates from the University of Hargeisa were women. However, there remains a significant underrepresentation of women in the workforce, particularly in the public sector, where less than 25% of employees are women. Moreover, we call upon women's rights organizations to resist any attempts of co-optation by the government and instead focus on placing women at the forefront of their activism.

We stand in solidarity with the global movement to end violence against women and call for increased investment in prevention efforts.