On the occasion of International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, the Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU) and its affiliated unions are disgusted and deeply concerned with the extent of Sexual and Gender Based Violence that continue to cloud the country.
Somalia’s organised labour is shocked by the normalisation of this act and the continuous sexual violence against women and children with total impunity, and the manner in which it is escalating. The recent spate of violence directed at women and children should prompt all of us to deepen the mobilisation for the speedy enactment of Sexual Offences Bill (SOB) to ensure that the perpetrators are apprehended and they rot in jail.
Sexual violence is equally prevalent in the workplaces in the form of sexual harassment, discrimination and economic violence. The negative stigma associated with being a victim of any form of gender-based violence is an experience that we all never want to go through.
Somalis must unite to fight this pandemic of patriarchy and gender inequalities. It is both repulsive and deeply concerning that in 2020 women and children continue to be victims of sexual violence, unfair labour practices and exploitative practices. This calls for an immediate, renewed and proactive efforts to combat all forms of violence directed at women and children.
In this regard, Somali trade unions demand the Lower House of the Federal Parliament of Somalia to move with speed in reinstating the SOB back to the parliament and to prioritise its deliberations and subsequent adoption to strengthen our legislation to protect women and children in order to effectively eradicate sexual and gender-based violence. History will never forgive the parliamentarians who continue to frustrate SOB as they will be abetting violence against women and children.
In June 2019, the Somali government and FESTU jointly voted for the adoption of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 190 on violence and harassment in the world of work. FESTU urges the Federal Government of Somalia to ratify ILO C190 and domesticate it to eliminate violence and harassment against women. The convention is strong, inclusive and protects all women workers.
FESTU and its affiliates will continue to struggle to ensure that women and children are safe from all forms of abuse and violence. We will intensify our work in fighting against violence directed to women and to this end we shall campaign for the enactment of the Sexual Offence Bill into law to eliminate this pandemic which seriously hinders development of the Somali society.