Lawmakers in Nigeria’s Kaduna State have approved surgical castration as punishment for those convicted of rap_ing children under the age of 14.
State governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai needs to sign the bill for it to become law in the north-western state.
He has previously supported castration to prevent rap_ists from re-offending.
The move follows public outrage over a wave of rap_es, which prompted the nation’s state governors to declare a state of emergency.
Nigeria’s federal law provides between 14 years and life imprisonment as punishment, but state legislators can set different sentencing rules.
Stigma often prevents victims from reporting incidents of rap_e in Nigeria and the number of successful prosecutions is low.
Since 2015, when a new law was introduced, about 40 rap_e suspects have been charged, in a country of some 200 million people, according to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (Naptip), which has a se_x offenders’ list on its website.
The new law broadened the scope under which se_xual offences can be penalised in Nigeria and removed the time limit of two months during which rap_e cases had to be tried before they became ineligible to be heard in a court.
The head of the agency, Julie Okah-Donli, told the BBC that as the burden of proof was on the prosecution, proving rape cases is “quite tedious and technical”.
‘It will deter rap_ists’
Surgical castration of convicted rapists has been mooted in Nigeria for a while, especially as cases spiked during the recent coronavirus lockdown.
There was widespread outrage in July following the murder of a 22-year-old university student who her family say was brutally rap_ed and bludgeoned to death.
It was one of several shocking cases within a week that led to street protests, an online petition signed by thousands and a Twitter hashtag #WeAreTired.
Many Nigerians called for tougher laws, such as the death penalty.
“We feel that the new law will go a long way to curbing rising cases of rap_es in our state,” Kaduna lawmaker Shehu Yunusa told the BBC.
“If the Kaduna governor signs [this] into law, the next rap_ist caught in Kaduna might become the first person to be castrated under this new law,” he said.
Gender activist Dorothy Njemanze – a former victim – welcomed the bill and said she would like to see it adopted in other Nigerian states.
“In retrospect, if everyone that rap_ed me was put through that [surgical castration] other people that they might have also rap_ed would have been spared the calamity,” she said.
Surgical castration is not widely practised in the world and is considered controversial in the few places where it still used.
It is not in the guidelines drawn up by the International Association for the Treatment of Se_xual Offenders (IATSO) and critics argue that the physical effects are irreversible and may have serious physical and mental consequences.