Since 1989, internal fighting and widespread drought conditions have severely disrupted government and its ability to provide social services. Private humanitarian agencies tried to fill the need but fighting, extortion, and the activities of armed factions and looters chased many of them away. The UN has also tried to help, but it too finds operations difficult. Somalia in effect has no national government, and current data for social services is unavailable.
Although widespread violence and fighting subsided in 1995, human rights abuses by warring factions continue. Civilians are often the victims of indiscriminate shelling.
Women play a subordinate role in Somalia's culture and politics. Polygyny is practiced and female genital mutilation is nearly universal. The punishment for murdering a women is half as severe as that for killing a man. Rape is a common occurance. There are no women in prominent political positions. The Somaliland constitution adopted in 1997 prohibits discrimination based on sex or ethnicity.
Serious human rights violations included suppression of civil and political rights, disappearances, arbitrary detention, and harsh prison conditions. Many civilians were still being killed in factional fighting.