Child marriage by 15
Child marriage by 18
|Are there Girls Not Brides members?||9|
|Does this country have a national strategy or plan?||No|
|Is there a Girls Not Brides National Partnership or coalition?||No|
|Age of marriage without consent or exceptions taken into account||No minimum legal age of marriage (all exceptions taken into account)|
What's the prevalence rate?
What drives child marriage in Somalia?
Child marriage is driven by gender inequality and the belief that women and girls are somehow inferior to men and boys.
In Somalia, child marriage is exacerbated by:
Family honour: Somali social norms are very sensitive about the protection of girls before marriage. Parents often marry off their daughters to protect them from sexual abuse on their way to and from school.
Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C): Somalia is one of few countries in the world where it is estimated that almost all of women and girls have experienced Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C). This is strongly linked to attempts to control female sexuality and prepare girls for marriage.
Religion: As reported by UNICEF, Islamic leaders do not see protecting girls from child marriage as a priority and they avoid speaking out against forced marriages. Some leaders support the practice by reportedly giving permission for child marriages to take place.
Gender norms and power dynamics: About 30% of girls aged 15 to 24 marry husbands who are 10 or more years older, and about one in five women aged between 15 and 49 are in polygynous marriages. This contributes to placing women and girls in a subservient
Peer pressure: When one girl in a class or community marries, others often follow. This sometimes results in girls getting divorced, moving back home with their parents and “damaging” future marriage prospects.
Humanitarian settings can encompass a wide range of situations before, during, and after natural disasters, conflicts, and epidemics. They exacerbate poverty, insecurity, and lack of access to services such as education, factors which all drive child marriage. While gender inequality is a root cause of child marriage in both stable and crisis contexts, often in times of crisis, families see child marriage as a way to cope with greater economic hardship and to protect girls from increased violence. For decades, Somalia has suffered from extreme weather, especially recurrent droughts and floods, and a prolonged conflict, all of which add on to widespread poverty in the country. 6.3 million people are at risk of food shortages and as of August 2018, there are 2.6 million internally displaced people in Somalia. In addition to natural disasters and food insecurity, child marriage in Somalia is exacerbated by:
Armed conflict: Some Somali girls are raped by armed groups and forced to marry fighters. The UN reports that Al-Shabaab (an Islamist insurgent group based in Somalia) has been particularly complicit in forcing girls into marriage. Human Rights Watch highlights that Al-Shabaab’s members use child marriage as a tactic to impose a harsh version of Sharia on every aspect of the personal lives of women and girls. Many refugee families cited leaving Somalia due to fear of forced marriage, and one girl was decapitated because she resisted marriage.
Displacement: Girls living in internally displaced people’s (IDP) camps are particularly vulnerable to sexual violence and forced marriage.
What international, regional and national commitments has Somalia made?
Somalia has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Somalia co-sponsored the 2014 UN General Assembly resolution and the 2013 Human Rights Council resolution on child, early and forced marriage. In 2014, Somalia signed a joint statement at the Human Rights Council calling for a resolution on child marriage.
Somalia ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 2015, which sets a minimum age of marriage of 18. Somali is one of few countries that has not signed or ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.
In 1991 Somalia signed the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, including Article 21 regarding the prohibition of child marriage.
In 2006 Somalia signed the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, including Article 6 which sets the minimum age for marriage as 18.
During its 2016 Universal Periodic Review, Somalia agreed to examine recommendations to counteract serious human rights violations of women and girls, including child marriage.
In 2019, at the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25, the Somali Government committed to zero tolerance for gender-based violence by addressing vulnerability factors, especially among internally-displaced people, and strengthening policy and legal frameworks.
At the London Girl Summit in July 2014, the government signed a charter committing to end child marriage by 2020.
Somalia is a partner country of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).
What is the government doing to address child marriage?
The Somali Ministry of Women and Family Affairs has drafted legislation to protect children from child marriage and FGM/C. In 2019, Somalia reported to the UN Child Rights Committee that the Sexual Offences Bill, which is currently on the floor of parliament, provides sanctions for child marriages.
The National Development Plan (2017–2019) also stated the government intention of eliminating child marriage.
The Ministry of Justice has trained some religious leaders on child marriage awareness and has provided them with templates to ensure proper documentation and action plans on minimising child marriages. It is also working to register sheikhs (religious leaders) and provide licenses for the performance of nikahs (“marriage” in Islamic law) to keep track of and control child marriage.
What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?
The provisional Somalian Constitution (2012) states that a “marriage shall not be legal without the free consent of both the man and the woman, or if either party has not reached the age of maturity.” However, the Constitution does not define the age of maturity meaning that girls could marry at any age under 18.
In addition, according to the Family Code (1975), the legal age for marriage in Somalia is 18 for both men and women. But it provides exceptions for girls to be married at age 16 or younger with a guardian’s consent.
Adolescent-led marriage in Somaliland and Puntland: a surprising interaction of agency and social norms
This paper the role of technology, social norms and poverty in driving adolescent-led marriage in Somaliland and Puntland.
Understanding the unique experiences, perspectives and sexual and reproductive health needs of very young adolescents: Somali refugees in Ethiopia
This study looks into the health and education of refugee girls in Somali communities in Ethiopia and identified child marriage as a key risks that they face.
Interagency gender-based violence case management guidelines in humanitarian settings
These guidelines aim to provide standards for good practice to ensure gender-based violence survivors receive quality care in humanitarian settings.
Vows of poverty. 26 countries where child marriage eclipses girls' education
CARE ranks the 26 countries where girls are more likely to be married before the age of 18 than enrolled in secondary school.
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