COVID19 measures will accelerate spousal violence in homes and increased practice of female genital mutilation in Somalia, the UN has warned calling for the passage of the Sexual Offenses law.
UNFPA representative in Somalia Anders Thomsen said Saturday in marking the World Population Day stricter measures must be put in place to protect women and girls from abuse in light of the ongoing COVID19 pandemic.
“Lockdown measures to contain COVID-19 and the resultant economic impacts are associated with increasing household tensions, which are likely to result to an upward surge in the cases of spousal violence,” said Thomsen in a statement.
The Sexual Offenses Bill is currently in parliament awaiting debate. Somaliland passed the law in 2018 which among others prohibits female genital mutilation.
The UN body noted girls in Somalia, forced to stay at home due to COVID-19, are now undergoing FGM in their homes. Noting the the pandemic could have a far-reaching impact on the effort to end FGM, with a potential 2 million FGM cases occurring over the next decade that could have otherwise been averted, UNFPA called for adoption of laws to avert the impact.
“UNFPA calls for the speedy passage of the Sexual Offences Bill and FGM Bill in Somalia,” the statement read in part.
According to the recently published Somali Health and Demographic Survey (SHDS), annually, one in 10 ever-married women experience physical violence perpetrated by their spouse.