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Jitters over Somalia’s proposed law to protect women

Monday, July 04, 2016

Somali policewomen during a training meeting in Mogadishu before deployment to various parts of the country. A law recently approved by the Somali Cabinet is raising questions for allegedly going against Islamic principles PHOTO | COURTESY 


A law recently approved by the Somali Cabinet is raising questions for allegedly going against Islamic principles.

The law emphasises gender equality in the entire Somali socio-economic and political spectrum.

Religious personalities have issued a statement condemning the new national gender policy.

The chairman of Somali Religious Council (SRC), Sheikh Bashir Ahmed Salad, said the law had numerous faults, including clauses that may allow same sex marriage.

The cleric also pointed out that it was not right to say that women could hold top national posts, outlaw the Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) or that women could only marry upon attaining the age of 18 years.

The Somali Cabinet last Thursday invited the SRC clerics to their weekly meeting, to discuss the law.

Consequently a committee comprising ministers and clergymen was formed to probe any faults in the gender law.

However, Women and Human Rights minister Zahra Mohamed Ali Samatar dismissed reports that some articles of the new gender law went against Islamic principles.

“I have no idea about the bogus information circulating in the public that the gender policy approved last week is contrary to Islam,” said Ms Samatar, who talked to Shabelle Radio, an independent broadcaster in Mogadishu.

“In the new gender law, we stipulated that women and men are equal on the educational rights, but we did not say people of same sex can get married, which is a propaganda and baseless report,” Shabelle quoted Ms Samatar saying.

In 1975, the socialist regime led by General Mohamed Siad Barre, enacted a gender law, which attracted criticism from a section of Somali religious personalities.

Several clerics were charged with going against the law and eventually sentenced to death, causing an uproar.




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