The Somalian parliament is considering a bill that would allow child marriage once a girl’s sexual organs mature.
The new Sexual Intercourse Related Crimes Bill would allow forced marriage as long as the family gives their consent.
It marks a dramatic reworking of years of efforts give more protections to women in one of the world’s most conservative countries.
The bill ‘would represent a major setback in the fight against sexual violence in Somalia and across the globe’, said the United Nations special representative on sexual violence in conflict.
Already more than 45 per cent of young women in Somalia were married or ‘in union’ before age 18, according to a United Nations analysis in 2014-15.
Somalia in 2013 agreed with the U.N. to improve its sexual violence laws, and after five years of work a sexual offences bill was approved by the Council of Ministers and sent to parliament.