Somaliland: Women, the Neglected

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Voters in Somaliland a majority of them women Queue during past elections

By: Mo Ali Medeshi

Somalilandsun- Women in Somaliland play crucial role in the country where they are increasingly assuming the roles of family breadwinners.

As they struggle for the lives of their families, women contribute to the positive development of Somaliland. However, women face huge challenges in this conservative Somali society.

Women in the decision making ranks of the country are incomparable to men. There is only one female member of the 164 members the parliament (both the lower house and the upper house), and there is only three ministers in the cabinet whose members are above forty. There is no single female director general. Women do not hold high ranking offices in the government institutions. Although president of Somaliland H.E Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud publicly supported quota for women, he failed to appoint more women in his cabinet, director generals and the other offices he has discretionary powers to whom he may appoint to.

The clan structure and the political culture of Somaliland which is based on clan deny women to the equality guaranteed by the constitution.

As women at work are dramatically less than the men, men are richer and use their influence to discriminate women. The political parties are led by men who do prefer men in the party

level selection of candidates.

The constitution guarantees equality, but there is no single female judge in Somaliland. In 2012, four deputy attorney generals were appointed in the first time in the history of Somaliland. This was

very positive development. Unfortunately, while those male deputy attorney generals appointed at the same time were promoted to be head of regions, no female deputy attorney general was appointed

to hold an office.

Women are not only marginalized at government institutions, but they face worst discrimination in the private sector. Many companies directly discriminated women at the jobs. There are companies that do not employ women. And those employed are harassed and are less paid. Business companies run by either conservative traditional men or radical religious men do not under any circumstance welcome women. Even those employed to serve for female customers when the service so necessitates face

discrimination including under payment and restriction of interaction male colleagues.Thanks to the new imposition of free education, the number of girls at schools increased last years. Nevertheless, girls remain to drop out the school in early age and there is no legal protection that enables the girls to be safe from early marriage, the huge housework that forces to stay out of school and to perform less

than boys and parents’ preference of boys over girls in the education.

Women are victims of sexual offences. Human Rights Center found that rape has increased dramatically in Somaliland in this year. Rape is the least reported offence in Somaliland. There is center

called Baahi-koob that supports victims of rape in Hargeisa. In all the other regions there are no centers that assist rape victims as Baahi-koob in Hargeisa.

Clan elders interfere in the prosecution process. Many perpetrators were release due to agreement reached by the family of the victim and that of the perpetrator. Although Somaliland Penal Code

prohibits such agreement, the Attorney General Office and the courts repeatedly accept and enforce such agreement.

In the Somali Customary Law there is no punishment and in any offence blood compensation shall be paid. Therefore, clan leaders’ interference is the most serious danger to the justice. The courts fail to apply the Penal Code on the rape cases. They show lenience to the customary law, and as result many victims end without getting the justice they deserve.

According to the data collected by Human Rights Center most of the rape cases occur at the poor neighborhoods. These vulnerable people who are neglected and live where Police protection is very

low become very vulnerable for rape.

To successfully prosecute evidence is required. It is great challenge that many victims report after 72 hours when the incident occurred. This minimizes the chance of winning the case before the court as

tests can be only taken within 72 hours from the time the crime was committed.

The lack of specific training for the Police, the prosecutors and the judges deteriorate the situation.

The Police failed to safeguard the safety of the women and the girls. Police Stations are not places that welcome female complainants. The guards at the gates accustomed to question the purpose of anyone who is going to enter the station. This compels the female victims not to dare to go to the Police stations.

In most of the country, the investigators and those record crimes are men, except Hargeisa which has Baahi-koob center. Such Police structure discourages the victims to report to the Police.

Victims of domestic violence do not get legal protection. The only option for these victims is to go to the court to initiate civil suit. The criminality of assault committed by husbands is absent in Somaliland.

This is caption of Somaliland Human Rights Report – 2013

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