the ‘Muslim woman’ who is part of the larger Somali society, yet isnevertheless marginalised within the cultural system and within class, clanand race dynamics.
The Family Law denotes the codified statutory personallaw pronounced by the military regime on January 11, 1975. This law, thoughsupported by a small coterie of elite urban women, affected all womenregardless of their location within power configurations. The military regimeruled Somalia from 1969 to 1990, taking a socialist orientation as its guidingphilosophy for social transformation and development, and assigned moreroles that are prominent to women.
Women in the Societal Framework
Traditional power configurations in Somalia bind together two groups whoperform complementary functions in the society. The first is the worldlyfunction of the primordial or territorial clan groups, bounded by their diverseversions of clan laws in their multi-level structures and hierarchies.
Theseworldly functions are vested on the clan elders of the primary social unit(diya-paying unit), who have diverse titles and roles in the different localitiesand sub-cultures, and coordinate the affairs of the clans through theinstitution of the general assembly or ‘Shir’.
This assembly is participatoryand includes all male members of the clan, while excluding women fromdiscussion and decision-making. The second are the religious functionsundertaken by the Islamic scholars, such as Islamic education, dispensing
Somalis belong to the Sunni Muslim of Shafi’i Jurisprudence.
Osseina Alidou and Meredeth Turshen, “Africa: Women in the Aftermath of Civil War”, Race&Class, 2000:41(4): 81-92.
In the pastoral areas, the system is based on primordiality while in the agricultural areas, itis founded on territorial attachments; and accordingly, various legal systems havedeveloped to respond to the needs of the communities. Moreover, hierarchies of the clansystem begin from diya paying sub clan.
Different clans use different titles for their elders. There are Suldan, Ugas, Islam, Boqor,Wabar, Malaaq, imam and so on. A diya-paying group is a primary unit that has a commonterritory, clan wells, heer and a leader, and recognized as such by other clans. The functionof the elder is the provision of security, conflict resolution; administration of diya system andintra-clan relations. So, it is a sort of mini-state. See Abdurahman Abdullahi, “Tribalism,Nationalism and Islam: Crisis of the Political Loyalties in Somalia”, (MA Thesis, McGillUniversity, 1992), 37-39.