Somali community elders and religious leaders have been urged not to solve cases of rape through the alternative system of dispute and conflict resolution mechanism popularly known as the ‘Maslaha’ system.
Speaking in Benane, Lagdera sub-county, Director General for National Council for Population Development (NCPD) Mohamed Abdikadir said community elders should not allow the maslaha system to be used to resolve cases of rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence against women as it has been the custom.
“Sexual and gender-based violence cases are being reported but they are not completed in terms of prosecution because they end up in ‘Maslaha’ and that’s why we are here to educate the elders and women to understand their roles,” Abdikadir said.
Abdikadir noted that while the alternative dispute resolution has been good on other issues like divorce and family disputes in the region, it should not be used to settle criminal offences. “We have benefited from ‘Maslaha’ in many ways but the issue of criminal acts, the Maslaha system should not be used to deny women and girls justice. As a community, we need to shun using ‘Maslaha’ to settle matters touching on GBV(Gender-based Violence) to deter future perpetrators from thinking they could escape justice easily,” he said.
The NCPD director said such abhorrent acts should not be condoned within the Somali and Muslim communities where women are held in high esteem. He pointed out that Islam inherently and irrefutably values, honours and respects women more than any other religion.
“Islam honours and protects women. Women are more respected in Islam than any other religion. We are telling our elders in the north we will not solve rape cases through maslaha system” he said.
Hindia Adan, a Garissa resident says that once the cases are solved through ‘Maslaha’ which is purely dominated by the elders, victims of FGM and GBV do not get the payments agreed to settle the matter. “Women cannot be allowed in the meetings and once the fines are settled on, we do not benefit from them because it is divided amongst the members of the meeting,” Hidia said.
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