Within traditional Somali society it is the duty of a woman’s family to protect her honour and status. In cases of sexual assault or abuse her family or clansmen are charged with seeking redress. The social ramifications of the assault, and thus the type and amount of com­pensation sought, vary according to the woman’s marital status.

Assaulting an unmarried virgin has the greatest ramifications. Such assaults are believed to destroy the sexual purity of the victim. As a result she is regarded as socially dead. Due to the gravity of this offence the compensation demanded is correspondingly high. The relatives of the girl or woman generally demand not only payment for the offence but also the diya, or blood payment, given to the relatives of a murder victim. In addition, the relatives demand that the assailant, or a member of his clan, marry the victim.