Outrage In Somalia After Lawmaker Backs Bill Legalising Child Marriage For Girls As Young As 10 Years Old

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Outrage In Somalia After Lawmaker Backs Bill Legalising Child Marriage For Girls As Young As 10 Years Old

There has been worldwide outrage after a Somali politician and lawmaker introduced a bill in parliament that would legalise child-marriage in the country as soon as a girl reached puberty, as young as 10 years-old for some girls.


Child-marriage is a problem that is endemic in the country, despite the constitution supporting the position that no woman should be married before the age of 18.


Statistics from Somalia show that almost 1 in 3 Somali girls are married before the age of 18 and that 1 in 8 are married before the age of 15, some as young as 13.


Sahra Omar Malin, a Somali politician, has spoken out against the bill and urged her fellow politicians to vote it down should it come before parliament. She said in a statement:


"It is completely unacceptable. We have to protect the rights of our children. We have asked the deputy speaker to bring back the original bill, which we had been working on for so many years. It was such a comprehensive document that provides women the dignity and protection they deserve."


She also told Reuters:


"Our constitution is based on Islam. It says the age of maturity is 18, this is the right age for voting or for a girl to marry."


Dheepa Pandian, a spokeswoman from UNICEF, also added her condemnation and said that many families sell off daughters due to the harsh economic circumstances they face, she said:


"Some families marry off their daughters to reduce their economic burden or earn income. Others may do so because they believe it will secure their daughters' futures or protect them."


Somalia is one of the world's poorest countries and has been ravaged by decades of brutal civil war. The economic circumstances and lack of any central government means that many girls are completely unprotected from those seeking to marry them or give them away at such a young age.


Horrific stories of neglect are not uncommon. As reported in Reuters, 'Hafsa', told of how she was sold to a man at age 13 for $100. Afterward, she was repeatedly beaten and raped before she eventually managed to secure a divorce, she said:


"The man just slept with me, beating me always. I regretted I was born."

Similarly, Fardowsa Salat Mohamed was 15 when she was forced to marry her cousin. She told The Guardian:


"That was not a choice for me, I was basically forced. No girl would ever choose to be cursed by her parents so I had to accept the marriage."


There is an old Somali saying that sums up the ideology of the society when it comes to marriage, it says:


"Gabadh ama god hakaaga jirto ama gunti rag - a girl should either be married or in a grave".


Sadly, it looks as though the old saying is still destroying the future of many young women.

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Thinking Humanity: Outrage In Somalia After Lawmaker Backs Bill Legalising Child Marriage For Girls As Young As 10 Years Old
Outrage In Somalia After Lawmaker Backs Bill Legalising Child Marriage For Girls As Young As 10 Years Old
There has been worldwide outrage after a Somali politician introduced a bill in parliament that would legalise child-marriage in the country as soon as a girl reached puberty, as young as 10 years-old for some girls. Child-marriage is a problem that is endemic in the country, despite the constitution supporting the position that no woman should be married before the age of 18. Statistics from Somalia show that almost 1 in 3 Somali girls are married before the age of 18 and that 1 in 8 are married before the age of 15, some as young as 13.
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