Kaduna, Nigeria has announced a new law that will punish child rapists with castration and death.
Under the new legislation, which was signed by the governor of Kaduna last Wednesday, any man convicted of raping a child under the age of 14 will be surgically castrated before he is executed. Any woman convicted of the same crime will have her fallopian tubes removed.
Offenders convicted of raping people over the age of 14 will also face castration, followed by life in prison under the new law.
Kaduna’s governor, Nasir el-Rufai, says he feels the new laws were important to “help further protect children from a serious crime.”
According to the minister for women’s affairs, last December more than two million women and girls were raped in Nigeria. In June the number of rapes spiked by three times the typical rate because many women and girls were locked down with their abusers due to the coronavirus pandemic.
For the many Nigerians who have been pleading for stricter consequences for sex offenders, the new laws are welcome. However, critics say the new legislation is not aligned with the country’s Constitution and they predict it will lead to fewer rapes being reported.
It is not clear as of yet, how the law will be applied in cases of child marriage. Considering that Nigeria has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world with over 3.5 million child brides.
Some studies have suggested that surgical castration will likely result in sex offenders not reoffending.
But Nigerian lawyer and activist, Chidi Odinkalu, believes the law could actually hinder progress in reducing sexual assault in the country.
Most rape in Nigeria (and around the world) happens within a marriage. Odinkalu says women and girls will be outcast if their families and communities find out they reported their husbands for a crime that carries a punishment of castration and possible death. He believes there will be less reports of rape because of this law.
“You’re going to get fewer cases of rape and sexual violence reported,” he said, asking, “What’s wrong with life imprisonment?”
Mr. Odinkalu described the new law as “legislative sadism.”