Women, girls and activists in Somaliland have welcomed a new law criminalizing sexual assault.
Somalia's Puntland state has passed a law criminalizing sexual assault, giving rape victims especially women, and girls hope.
In the past, the victim was forced to marry the rapist to avoid being shamed. Now, the predators stand to be jailed for at least 30 years.
Speaking to the BBC, Somaliland's speaker of parliament, Bashe Mohamed Farah, said rape cases have risen recently and hoped the new law would help stop that trend.
"Nowadays we have seen even people carrying out gang rapes," he said.
December 2016, a gang rape video posted online sparked national and international outrage. The group of men was later arrested and accused of gang raping and stabbing a pair of young girls in Somalia's Puntland, VOA reported.
"Impunity is one of our biggest issues in Somalia. A lot of similar rape happens in Somalia ... but it's not publicly spoken,” Somalia's Minister of Gender Sahra Samantar. “The fact that they now post it on social media, that gives at least the whole world to see indeed what happens in Somalia,” she added.
Salim Said, the lawyer who drafted the new law, which Puntland enacted, said the case was the first that called for enforcement of the Sexual Offense Act.
“This is a test for Puntland government's accountability in front of international law, in front of national laws, and also in front of their people.”
The new law has been welcomed by children and women’s rights advocates.
Faisa Ali Yusuf of the Women's Agenda Forum told the BBC they have been waiting for such legislation for a very long time.
"The main emphasis of the new act is to completely stop rape," Farah added.
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