EDITORIAL | The biggest political story in the country this week may be the ultimate agreement reached between President Mohamed Farmaajo and five federal states to adopt a constituency electoral system. This agreement on Thursday night could give the country hope for a peaceful transition.
But the biggest issue sticking out like a sore thumb this week has been the incessant stories of rape and murder. Last week, a woman identified as Hamid Mohamed Farah was thrown out of a six-story building in Mogadishu. She had been raped by a group before meeting her ending, a product of a chattering group of thugs in the capital.
The story has been shameful to Somali society, and female leaders and political figures from all walks of life have rightly expressed outrage at the trials of a woman picked from the bright part of her life.
Mrs. Farah, reportedly, was a new high school graduate and had high hopes of becoming a member of a tertiary institution to pursue her dreams. Like all young people in Somalia, she saw education as the clearest way to lift her family from the vicious circle of poverty.
Now she is no more. Mrs. Farah’s life should not be in vain. It should arouse our anger and decide to resolutely remove the evil by rape and murder. This is why we support calls on the Somali Parliament to pass a law imposing severe sanctions on sex offenders and other pests.
The Sexual Offenses Act, which MPs have been sitting on since 2018, should be improved and adopted immediately. Granted, the draft law had some ambiguities that lawmakers needed to clarify. It should define issues of consent, age of consent and what constitutes forced sexual encounters.
In the midst of the outrage, however, MPs had completely discussed another law, the law on sexual intercourse. This bill has been controversial for suggesting that the family of a woman, not herself, can give consent to the marriage.
This is unconventional as the rights of individuals cannot be transferred. The global convention is that individuals decide who to marry or have sex with.
We recognize that the conservative culture in Somalia has been reluctant to let people freely discuss issues of sexuality. But Somalia’s own Islamic background must be a strength, not a weakness, in the treatment of sexual offenders. The teachings of the Qur’an prohibit sexual assault and encourage societies to continually protect the weak and vulnerable in their midst.
Somalia cannot thrive if some parts of its society are constantly threatened by the other half. This is not an absolute condemnation of men in Somalia. On the contrary, it is a collective call for both men and women in Somalia to work towards ensuring that a girl or boy born in this country has an equal chance of achieving their dreams unhindered.
In fact, Mrs Farah’s fate was not the only one and should not have been the only one that influenced us to make a decision. Over the past two years, young boys and girls have been assaulted, raped or killed.
These incidents require adequate action to protect the lives of children and women in Somalia.
Due to Somalia’s tragic history over the last 30 years, rape and murder and other forms of violence have been widespread. It has made Somalia one of the unsafe places to be born, worse if you are a woman. A disturbing statistic from UN Women says that nine out of ten women have been subjected to some form of sexual abuse.
Somali leaders may express outrage. But unless they actually carry out a tough call for these pests, it seems the country is tolerating it.
Mrs. Farah’s death should inspire us all to ensure that such a heinous crime does not happen under our noses again.
We could go back to the basics, such as raising public awareness and reminding everyone of the religious values we live for, and tightening sanctions for deviant.