Somaliland passes bill to criminalise rape, other gender violence
Until now rape was not defined as a crime in Somaliland, that meant perpetrators faced no penalty.
Somaliland, a self-declared republic in the Horn of Africa, has passed a bill under which rapists could face up to 20 years in jail and also criminalises other forms of gender violence such as forced marriage, trafficking for sexual slavery and sexual harassment.
The conservative Islamic region passed its first law against rape in a drive to combat gender violence.
"This really is a historic law for Somaliland. For the first time potential rapists will be scared that they will be punished and end up in jail for years," Ayan Mahamoud, Somaliland's representative in Britain, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from London.
Until now rape was not defined as a crime in Somaliland, that meant perpetrators faced no penalty. Victims' families were instead paid off or the victim was forced to marry her rapist to avoid public shame.
Somaliland is not internationally recognised as a country, although it declared independence from Somalia in 1991 after a bloody civil war and has a population of about four million.