The bill has been approved in the lower house of parliament, but still needs affirmation by the upper house. Speculations are that the bill will be signed by the president on March 1st.
According to the Guardian, it is the first piece of legislation to address gender-based violence in the state. Home to 3.5 million people, the tradition goes, like in many other countries, that a victim's family could force her to marry her rapist to avoid being shamed.
Under the republic of Somaliland’s rape and other related offences bill, all forms of sexual offence would be criminalised, including rape, gang rape, sexual assault, trafficking and child marriage. Rapists who infect their victims with HIV would receive life sentences. Rapists now stand to face at least 30 years in prison.
However, the new law does not address domestic violence or female genital mutilation.
A former British colony, Somaliland declared itself independent from Somalia in 1991 but is not internationally recognised as a country. Somalia, on the other hand, does not have a law against rape yet.
According to the World Health Organization, one in three women globally will experience some form of physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.