The governor of Nigeria’s Kaduna state has signed a law saying men convicted of rape will face surgical castration, and anyone raping a child under age 14 will face the death penalty.
The move follows public outrage over a wave of rapes, which prompted the nation’s state governors to declare a state of emergency. Many Nigerians clamoring for action in the face of a countrywide rape crisis have greeted the new law enthusiastically.They predict it will lead to fewer rapes being reported.
The minister for women’s affairs said that two million women and girls were raped in the country each year. Then in June she said that the number of rapes had spiked to three times the typical rate, because women and girls were locked down with their abusers during the coronavirus pandemic. Kaduna’s governor, Nasir el-Rufai, said the new measures were “required to help further protect children from serious crime.”
Although, Nigeria’s federal law provides between 14 years and life imprisonment as punishment, but state legislators can set different sentencing rules. Since 2015, when a new law was introduced, only 40 rape suspects have been charged, among the numerous rape cases that have been made public according to the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (Naptip).
Stigma often prevents victims from reporting incidents of rape in Nigeria and the number of successful prosecutions is low. “We feel that the new law will go a long way to curbing rising cases of rapes in our state,” Kaduna lawmaker Shehu Yunusa said in an interview.”If the Kaduna governor signs this into law, the next rapist caught in Kaduna might become the first person to be castrated under this new law,” he said.