An uproar is rising in Somalia as parliament considers a new bill that would allow child marriage once a girl reaches puberty, as early as 10 years old for some girls, or as long as the family gives their consent.
Recent government surveys show that nearly a third of girls are married before turning 18 and just under half of those married before turning 15.
The deputy speaker, Abdiweli Mudeey, who presented the controversial bill claimed, “this bill … is the correct one based on Islam.”
However, human rights activist, Sahra Omar Malin, stated, “our constitution is based on Islam. It says the age of maturity is 18, this is the right age for voting or for a girl to marry.”
A spokesperson from UNICEF commented on the controversial bill saying, “some families marry off their daughters to reduce their economic burden or earn income. Others may do so because they believe it will secure their daughters’ futures or protect them.”
However, Nadia Hussein, who runs three Somali shelters for abused child brides, stated: “most women here were married at 13 and are divorced by the time they are 20, they have no one to feed them.”