Traditional elders fuel sexual violations in Somalia

somalia rape mapsticsMARIA MACHARIA 
NAIROBI, (CAJ News) – INCIDENTS of sexual violence are widespread in  Somalia where traditional elders adjudicate sexual and gender-based  violence cases, such as rape.

This is due to the absence of a fully functioning criminal justice system  in many parts of the country.

The Xeer traditional dispute resolution system continues to play a key  role in the country given that rule of law institutions are still being  established.

The United Nations Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in  Somalia, Bahame Tom Nyanduga, has thus called on the Government to enhance  the capacity of the judiciary and police force in handling cases of sexual  and gender-based violence, and to prohibit the handling of such cases by
the traditional clan elders.

“There is also a crucial need to create human rights awareness among clan  elders and religious leaders about women’s rights, as one way of  facilitating change within communities,” said Nyanduga.

The Independent Expert also called for the adoption of the Sexual Offences  Bill during the forthcoming session of Parliament to further guarantee the  protection of women’s rights.

Rights groups have expressed concern perpetrators were getting off lightly  in the traditional Xeer system.

Xeer, is the polycentric legal system of Somalia.

Under this system, elders serve as judges and help mediate cases using  precedents.

CAJ News

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