Somalian escaped forced marriage

Concerning S.A.O vs Denmark violation of CEDAW article 2, 12, 16 and general recommendation no. 32.

The author is a single woman from Somalia seeking protection in Denmark against refoulement. After the author’s parent’s death, she lived with her uncle’s family where she was beaten, spoken rudely to, and treated as a slave. The author was in love with S.A and wanted to marry him, but when her family found out, they threatened to kill her. Her uncle found an old man for her to marry. It was the uncle’s wife’s brother. On the day of the ceremony, she escaped to see her boyfriend. Her uncle found them, beat them up, and locked her in a room. The Al-Shabaab wanted to stone her to death, because she was already married, so she could not have a boyfriend. She was stuck in the room for 2 days, and her husband came to beat her. The author fled to Ethiopia, where she found out that her boyfriend had been arrested and accused by her uncle. The author has been exposed to female genital mutilation, and for her entire life she has been oppressed as a woman in her country of origin. She has not had possibility of seeking help from the authorities in the male dominated society. Her wish and right to choose a husband was taken away from her, as her uncle wanted to forcefully marry her off to an older man she had never met.

This application for asylum was denied by decision of the Refugee Board on 1 December 2015. The board based its decision on issues with credibility, and did not address the need for protection according to CEDAW. Regardless of the alleged credibility issues, it is a fact that she is a single woman from a country, which is amongst the most repressive and discriminatory against women in the world. On return to the home town the author fears persecution by her own family. The first violation is the fact that the Danish authorities are simply ignoring the rights and obligations under CEDAW. As a state party to the convention, the Danish authorities are obliged to include and assess CEDAW – when relevant – on their own initiative. In the letter to the Board and during the Board hearing, counsel has specifically asked the Refugee Board to address the issue of a violation of CEDAW but there was no answer.

In the absence of any evidence in the case file establishing that the Board’s decision was manifestly unreasonable or arbitrary with respect to the author’s allegations, the Committee decides that the communication is inadmissible under article 4 (2) (c) of the Optional Protocol.

22. July 2021

CEDAW 101/2016
  • Decision: 29 October 2018
  • Comm: Gender