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Somalia

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, providing penalties of five to 15 years in prison for violations. Military court sentences for rape included death. The government did not effectively enforce the law. There are no laws against spousal violence, including rape, although on May 27, the Council of Ministers approved a national gender policy that gives the state the right to sue anyone convicted of committing gender-based violence, such as the killing or rape of a woman. Somali NGOs documented patterns of rape perpetrated with impunity, particularly of female IDPs and members of minority clans.

Although statistics on cases of gender-based violence in Mogadishu were unreliable, international and local NGOs characterized such violence as pervasive. Government forces, militia members, and men wearing uniforms raped women and girls. While the army arrested some security force members accused of such rapes, impunity was the norm.

AMISOM troops committed sexual abuse and exploitation, including rape.

Women feared reporting rape due to possible reprisals. Police were reluctant to investigate and sometimes asked survivors to do the investigatory work for their own cases. Traditional approaches to dealing with rape tended to ignore the survivor’s situation and instead sought resolution or compensation for rape through a negotiation between clan members of the perpetrator and survivor. Some survivors were forced to marry perpetrators.

For the most part, authorities rarely used formal structures to address rape. Survivors suffered from subsequent discrimination based on the attribution of “impurity.”

Local civil society organizations in Somaliland reported that gang rape continued to be a problem in urban areas, primarily perpetrated by youth gangs and male students. It often occurred in poorer neighborhoods and among immigrants, returned refugees, and displaced rural populations living in urban areas. In 55 percent of reported cases, a minor was the victim. Many cases went unreported.

Domestic and sexual violence against women remained serious problems despite the provisional federal constitution provision prohibiting any form of violence against women. While both sharia and customary law address the resolution of family disputes, women were not included in the decision-making process.

Al-Shabaab also committed sexual violence, including through forced marriages. Al-Shabaab sentenced persons to death for rape.

Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): Although the provisional federal constitution describes female circumcision as cruel and degrading, equates it with torture, and prohibits the circumcision of girls, FGM/C was almost universally practiced throughout the country. UNICEF reported that 98 percent of women and girls had undergone FGM/C and that the majority were subjected to infibulation–the most severe form–which involves cutting and sewing the genitalia. At least 80 percent of Somali girls who have undergone FGM/C had the procedure performed when they were between the ages of five and 14. International and local NGOs conducted education awareness programs on the dangers of FGM/C, but there were no reliable statistics to measure their success. In March the prime minister expressed support for an international campaign, led by activist group Avaaz, to encourage the country to adopt a zero tolerance approach to FGM/C. The campaign collected more than 1.3 million signatures.

Other Harmful Traditional Practices: Adultery in al-Shabaab-controlled areas was punishable by death; unlike in prior years, there were no reports of women being stoned to death for adultery.

Sexual Harassment: The provisional federal constitution states that workers, particularly women, shall have a special right of protection from sexual abuse and discrimination. Nevertheless, sexual harassment was believed to be widespread. No information was available on governmental programs addressing sexual harassment.

Reproductive Rights: A woman’s husband often made decisions regarding the couple’s reproduction. Women had little ability to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children or manage their reproductive health. They also had limited information about contraception or access to it. According to the United Nations, an estimated 15 percent of girls and women between the ages of 15 and 49 used some form of contraception. Women rarely had skilled attendants during pregnancy and childbirth, emergency care for complications arising from abortion, or essential obstetric and postpartum care.

The United Nations reported that more than 80 percent of internally displaced women had no access to safe maternal delivery. The maternal mortality ratio was 732 per 100,000 live births due to complications during labor that often involved anemia, FGM/C, and the lack of medical care. This represented an improvement since 2010, when the ratio was 850 per 100,000 live births. A woman’s lifetime risk of maternal death was one in 18.

Discrimination: Women did not have the same rights as men and experienced systematic subordination to men, despite provisions in the federal constitution prohibiting such discrimination. Women experienced discrimination in credit, education, politics, and housing.

On May 27, the Council of Ministers approved a national gender policy plan to increase women’s political participation, economic empowerment, and the education of girls. The plan included programs to promote awareness and sensitivity to gender issues and tools to measure gender inequities in policies and programs. On June 30, the Somali Islamic Scholars Union denounced the new policy as un-Islamic and called for punishment of its authors. In June and July, the minister of women, human rights, and social development, the only woman remaining in the cabinet, reportedly received several death threats from extremist Islamic groups who accused her of pushing for women’s representation in government. On October 2, the Somali Religious Council released a press statement warning the government against advocating for women in politics, calling the 30 percent quota for women’s seats in parliament “dangerous” and against Islamic religious tenets and predicting the policy would lead to disintegration of the family.

Only men administered sharia, which often was applied in the interests of men. According to sharia law and the local tradition of blood compensation, anyone found guilty of the death of a woman paid to the victim’s family only half the amount required to compensate for a man’s death.

While the law requires equal pay for equal work, this did not always occur. Women were underrepresented in both the formal public and private sectors because of cultural norms and girls’ low educational level. Women were not subject to discrimination in owning or managing businesses except in al-Shabaab-controlled areas. While generally visible in micro- and small enterprises, women were relegated to lower-level positions in larger companies.

The exclusion of women was more pronounced in al-Shabaab-controlled areas, where women’s participation in economic activities was perceived as anti-Islamic.

While formal law and sharia provide women the right to own and dispose of property independently, various legal, cultural, and societal barriers often obstructed women from exercising such rights. By law girls and women could inherit only half the amount of property to which their brothers were entitled. A 2010 report from a local women’s organization in Somaliland indicated 75 percent of women did not own livestock, land, or other property. Only 15 to 20 percent received inheritance from male family members.

Children

Birth Registration: The provisional federal constitution provides that there is only one Somali citizenship and calls for a special law defining how to obtain, suspend, or lose it. As of year’s end, parliament had not passed such a law.

According to UNICEF data from 2005 to 2012, authorities registered 3 percent of births in the country. Authorities in Puntland and in the southern and central regions did not register births. Birth registration occurred in Somaliland for hospital and home births, but limited capacity combined with the nomadic lifestyle of many persons caused numerous births in the region to go unregistered. In 2014 UNICEF began to support the Somaliland government in establishing a birth registration system by district. According to the most recent statistics, the system had registered 5,300 births by November 2015; the program aimed to register approximately 270,000 children. Failure to register births did not result in denial of public services, such as education.

Education: The provisional constitution provides the right to a free education up to the secondary level, but education was not free, compulsory, or universal. Education needs were partially met by a patchwork of institutions, including a traditional system of Quranic schools; public primary and secondary school systems financed by communities, foreign donors, and the Somaliland and Puntland administrations; Islamic charity-run schools; and a number of privately run primary and secondary schools and vocational training institutes. In many areas, children did not have access to schools other than madrassas. Attendance rates for girls remained lower than for boys.

Child Abuse: Child abuse and rape of children were serious problems, although no statistics on their prevalence were available. There were no known efforts by the government or regional governments to combat child abuse. Children remained among the chief victims of continuing societal violence.

The practice of “asi walid,” whereby parents placed their children in boarding schools, other institutions, and sometimes prison for disciplinary purposes and without any legal procedure, allegedly continued throughout the country.

Early and Forced Marriage: The provisional federal constitution requires both marriage partners to have reached the “age of maturity” and defines a child as a person less than 18 years old. It notes marriage requires the free consent of both the man and woman to be legal. Early marriages frequently occurred; 45 percent of women between the ages of 20 and 24 were married by age 18 and 8 percent were married by the age of 15. In rural areas, parents often compelled daughters as young as 12 to marry. In areas under its control, al-Shabaab arranged compulsory marriages between its soldiers and young girls and used the lure of marriage as a recruitment tool. There were no known efforts by the government or regional authorities to prevent early and forced marriage.

Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): See information on girls under 18 in the women’s section above.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: Child prostitution is illegal in all regions. There is no statutory rape law or minimum age for consensual sex. The law does not expressly prohibit child pornography. The law on sexual exploitation was rarely enforced, and such exploitation reportedly was frequent.

Child Soldiers: The use of child soldiers remained a problem (see section 1.g.).

Displaced Children: There was a large population of IDPs and children who lived and worked on the streets.

International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.

Anti-Semitism

There was no known Jewish community, and there were no reports of anti-Semitic acts.

Trafficking in Persons

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.

Persons with Disabilities

The provisional federal constitution provides equal rights before the law for persons with disabilities and prohibits the state from discriminating against them. Authorities did not enforce these provisions. The provisional federal constitution does not specify whether this provision applies to physical, intellectual, mental, or sensory disabilities. It does not discuss discrimination by nongovernmental actors, including with regard to employment, education, air travel and other transportation, or provision of health care. The law does not mandate access to buildings, information, or communications for persons with disabilities.

The needs of most persons with disabilities were not addressed. A report by the World Health Organization and Swedish International Development Aid (SIDA) estimated that up to 15 percent of the population was physically disabled. In 2011 SIDA found that 25 percent of public buildings were designed for wheelchair accessibility but no public transportation facilities had wheelchair access.

According to Amnesty International, persons with disabilities faced daily human rights abuses, such as unlawful killings, violence including rape and other forms of sexual violence, forced evictions, and lack of access to health care or an adequate standard of living. Domestic violence and forced marriage were prevalent practices affecting persons with disabilities. Women and girls with disabilities faced an increased risk of rape and other forms of sexual violence, often with impunity, due to perceptions their disabilities were a burden to the family or that such persons were of less value and could be abused.

Several local NGOs in Somaliland provided services for persons with disabilities and reported numerous cases of discrimination and abuse. These NGOs reported that persons with mental and physical disabilities faced widespread discrimination and that it was common and condoned by the community for students without disabilities to beat and harass those with disabilities.

Without a public health infrastructure, few services existed to provide support or education for persons with mental disabilities. It was common for such persons to be chained to a tree or restrained within their homes.

Local organizations advocated for the rights of persons with disabilities with negligible support from local authorities.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

More than 85 percent of the population shared a common ethnic heritage, religion, and nomad-influenced culture. In most areas, the predominant clan excluded members of other groups from effective participation in governing institutions and subjected them to discrimination in employment, judicial proceedings, and access to public services.

Minority groups included the Bantu (the largest minority group), Banadiri, Reer Hamar, Brawanese, Swahili, Tumal, Yibir, Yaxar, Madhiban, Hawrarsame, Muse Dheryo, Faqayaqub, and Gabooye. Minority groups, often lacking armed militias, continued to be disproportionately subjected to killings, torture, rape, kidnapping for ransom, and looting of land and property with impunity by faction militias and majority clan members, often with the acquiescence of federal and local authorities. Many minority communities continued to live in deep poverty and to suffer from numerous forms of discrimination and exclusion.

Representatives of minority clans in the federal parliament were targeted by unknown assailants, whom minority clan members alleged were paid by majority clan members. Somali returnees and IDPs from minority clans suffered discrimination, since they often lacked powerful clan connections and protection.

Fighting between clans resulted in deaths and injuries. For example, in Hiiraan 16 civilians were killed and 28 injured in recurrent clan fighting between the Gaaljecel and Jajeele in Beledweyne and rural villages in the area. On September 5, at least 15 persons were killed and 40 injured in clan fighting between the Sacad subclan of the Hawiye and the Omar Mahmoud subclan of the Darood in rural areas east of Galkayo town in Mudug Region. In Lower Shabelle Region, fighting between Habargidir and Biyomaal subclans resulted in 28 civilian deaths during the year.

Deaths from the July 2015 conflict between Dhulbahante and Habar Yunis clans in Guumeys village, Somaliland, were settled during the year by the transfer of blood money.

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Same-sex sexual contact is punishable by imprisonment for two months to three years. The law does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Society considered sexual orientation and gender identity taboo topics, and there was no known public discussion of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in any region. There were no known LGBTI organizations and no reports of events. There were few reports of societal violence or discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity due to severe societal stigma that prevented LGBTI individuals from making their sexual orientation or gender identity known publicly. There were no known actions to investigate or punish those complicit in abuses. Hate crime laws or other criminal justice mechanisms did not exist to aid in the prosecution of bias-motivated crimes against members of the LGBTI community.

HIV and AIDS Social Stigma

Persons with HIV/AIDS continued to face discrimination and abuse in their local communities and by employers in all regions. The United Nations reported that persons with HIV/AIDS experienced physical abuse, rejection by their families, and workplace discrimination and dismissal. Children of HIV-positive parents also suffered discrimination, which hindered access to services. There was no official response to such discrimination.

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U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future