Hawa Isack Adan, a 14-year-old girl, was granted a divorce in the Sool region of Somaliland on the 4th of March 2019. The young girl was forcefully wed to a 38-year-old man in January 2019. Hawa took the matter to court after a failed attempt at escaping.
Somaliland, a self-declared state in Somalia, implemented the Sexual Offence Act in April 2018. The bill criminalizes various forms of Gender Based Violence (GBV), including forced marriages. Perpetrators can face up to 20 years in jail.
Although the Sexual Offence Act has been introduced in Somaliland, Hawa’s violators were not given a jail sentence. According to local media, the court decided not to impose jail terms on Hawa’s father and the man that she was forcefully wed to in the “interests of the future harmony of the family”.
Reports of GBV have been a dominating topic in Somali news for these past couple of weeks. The rape and murder of Aisha Ilyas Aden, a 12-year-old girl from Puntland, sent shock waves across Somalia and Somali social media in late February. Aisha went missing and was found dead a day later with her body showing signs of torture and rape. Her killers are still at large.
Hawa was asked to return the heifer she received as mehr (bride price) to be granted her divorce papers. Since getting her divorce, Hawa stated that she would like to return to her village and continue her education.
This article was originally posted on 19/06/2019 on our old platform.