The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (S/2019/280) issued on 29 March 2019.

Persistent insecurity, gender inequality, the lack of protection by state authorities and the recurring humanitarian crises in Somalia continue to expose civilians to heightened risks of sexual violence. Women and girls are particularly targeted, although cases against boys have also been documented. The fragile justice system, ongoing security concerns and limited access to areas controlled by Al-Shabaab place women and girls in a state of acute vulnerability.

Dominant patterns include the abduction of women and girls for forced marriage and rape, perpetrated primarily by non-State armed groups, and incidents of rape and gang rape committed by state agents, militias associated with clans and unidentified armed men. Cases of abduction for the forced marriage and rape of 34 girls were attributed to members of Al-Shabaab. Internally displaced women and girls from marginalized groups are at particularly high risk.

In 2018, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) verified cases of conflict-related sexual violence against 20 women, 250 girls and 1 boy. The cases were attributed to unknown armed actors (83), Al-Shabaab (34) and clan militia (33), as well as state regional forces, namely Jubaland Armed Forces (26), Galmudug Armed Forces (9), Puntland Armed Forces (2), Southwest State Armed Forces (9) and Liyu Police (6). The United Nations also verified cases of the rape and gang rape of 48 individuals: 3 women, 44 girls and 1 boy by members of the Somali National Army, as well as incidents against 5 women and 12 girls by officers of the Somali Police Force.

Impunity for the perpetrators of crimes of sexual violence continues to be a concern. Mistrust of the criminal justice system, gender biases of police officers, the S/2019/280 19-04552 17/35 lack of financial resources and the victims’ lack of knowledge of their rights impede their access to justice. On 30 May, the Federal Council of Ministers adopted the Sexual Offences bill. If enacted, the bill will create a robust and survivor-responsive legal framework. Rape would no longer be classified as a “crime against morality”. The bill addresses sexual exploitation, sexual slavery, sex trafficking, forced marriage, sexual abduction, kidnapping for sex or sexual slavery purposes, and sexual slavery of an adult person.

In an effort to address a critical gap in support for female defec tors from Al-Shabaab under the National Programme for the Treatment and Handling of Disengaged Combatants, and in line with Security Council resolution 1325 (2000), UNSOM continues to support the Government in implementing a project aimed at empowering women affected by violent extremism, recognizing their vital role in preventing and countering such violence. The project will provide rehabilitation and reintegration support to 150 women defectors and their dependents in Mogadishu, Jubaland State and South West State.

Recommendation

I urge the Government to enact the Sexual Offences bill to strengthen the legal framework, enable prosecutions and end impunity for sexual violence. I also urge t he implementation of the National Action Plan on Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict and the extension of activities to federal member states to support their fight against sexual violence and the provision of all necessary legal and psychosocial support to survivors. I further urge the Government to immediately develop transparent legal processes and enforcement mechanisms to investigate and prosecute sexual violence perpetrated by soldiers and their commanders.

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