Somali trade unions (signed below), representing the nation’s working women and men, angrily note the decision of the House of the People (HOP) leadership of the Federal Parliament to allow the Sexual Intercourse Bill be presented to the House today, Saturday August 8, 2020 after the same HOP leadership unconstitutionally and without procedure refused to allow the entry of the Cabinet-approved Sexual Offenses Bill (SOB), on the agenda of the House with a view to going through parliamentary procedure.
The SOB is the first and most comprehensive bill on violence and harassment against women and children submitted by the Council of Ministers, but which has been refused by the HOP leadership to be presented to Parliament for debate based on unsubstantiated information, false statements of fact, and total disregard for Somalia’s constitution and parliamentary procedures.
This decision by the leadership of the House of the People (HOP) is not only an unprecedented move that greatly undermines the nascent parliamentary democracy in Somalia, but also denies the women and children of Somalia the necessary legal protection and paves the way for numerous illegal acts to be committed against them with impunity.
We, the Organised Labour of Somalia, call on parliamentarians to stand in solidarity with the defenceless women and children of Somalia by strongly rejecting the non-procedural decision to allow the Sexual Intercourse Bill presented for parliamentary debate, while at the same time also demanding that the Sexual Offences Bill (SOB) be reinstated on the parliamentary agenda and insisting on full respect for parliamentary procedures and the Provisional Federal Constitution of Somalia.
Violence against women and children affects all Somalis and therefore every Somali has a responsibility to stand up and strongly condemn the blatant attempt by the leadership of the House of People to thwart the Sexual Offences Bill (SOB) and smuggle through the totally substandard Sexual Intercourse Bill which fails to protect women, legalizes child marriage, disobeys Somalia’s provisional constitution and violates Somalia’s international human rights obligations.
We call on the Friends of Somalia and the international organizations and institutions that are committed to addressing the scourge of gender-based violence that affects women and children, to reject this undemocratic decision to deny the Sexual Offenses Bill to follow normal parliamentary procedure and strongly condemn the launch of the non-progressive Sexual Intercourse Bill.
Somali women and girls continue to face domestic violence, brutal killings, rape and unwanted sexual remarks, ridicule, harassment and assault in public. In particular, many women workers face sexual harassment and gender-based violence, both in the workplace and in the community. The impact of these vices on the lives of women is devastating – personally, economically and for the entire community.
All Somali trade union organizations exist in a region where women experience violence, often with disastrous consequences. It is our responsibility to every worker to be part of the struggle for change. Violence against women is a union issue and unions can and do make a difference because all women workers deserve workplaces, homes and a society where they are free from violence. The unions will not stay on the periphery and will not let the criminals prevail.
The Sexual Offenses Bill is new legislation that explains sexual offenses and suggests ways to prevent and protect all people from unlawful sexual acts. This new law is a big step forward in the fight against sexual offenses, as it prescribes penalties for sex offenders and also has sections dealing with crimes that have not been addressed by current laws in force in Somalia.
JOINTLY ISSUED BY:
- Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU)
- Somali Agricultural and Food Workers Union (SAFWU)
- Somali Maritime and Port Workers Union (SMFPWU)
- Somali Telecommunications and Posts Union (STPU)
- Somali Hotel and Catering Workers Union (SHCWU)
- Somali Transport Workers Union (STWU)
- Somali Tailors and Textile Workers Union (STTWU)
- National Electricity Workers Union of Somalia (NEWUS)
- National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ)
- Somalia Construction Workers Unions (SCWU)
- Somali Nurse Workers Association (SNWA)
- Somali Petroleum and Gas Workers Union (SUPEGW)
- Somali National Teachers Unions (SNTU)