Phrasing in Sexual Offences Bill Sparks Controversy

Mogadishu (PP News Desk) — The Speaker of Federal Parliament Mohammed Mursal today chaired a session on the Sexual Offences Bill.

The Sexual Offences Bill, submitted by the Federal Government of Somalia, caused controversy in July when the SRSG James Swan criticised the Parliamentary Speaker for “attempts to table a deeply-flawed new bill that allows child marriage and contravenes relevant international conventions.”

Mursal read out article four of Sexual Offences Bill. “I was too shy to read articles in the Bill but today I have to share the draft with you” said Mursal. “Article 4 reads: “ Any person who intentionally inserts something in the female genitals or the anus either by using a part of the body or an object without consent commits crime “ Mursal said

Mursal: The Sexual Offences Bill contains offensive articles.

The Parliamentary Speaker found fault with the phrasing of the article. “Consent is the only requirement” to do what the law otherwise views as rape.

“Somalia is war-torn country where patriarchy still reigns. The drafters of the Bill should have let the parliamentarians debate the phrasing of what constitutes a sexual offence because the definition in the Sexual Offences Bill runs counter to the definition of rape in the Somali penal code” Mas’ud Yusuf, a legal analyst in Mogadishu, told Puntland Post.

Consent is the justification rapists will use because many rape case are settled out of court before or after the case is submitted to a court for prosecution.

“The drafters included a caveat in the Bill: ‘it should not be passed by the Parliament if the Bill contravenes Islam’. When the Federal Government submitted the Bill to the Parliament, the Parliamentary Permanent Committee members met to study the Bill. They decided to refine it through wider consultation with the lawyers and Islamic jurisprudence experts” said Mursal.