In a bold move to curb the rising cases of rape in Kaduna State, the State House of Assembly has approved castration as a punishment for convicted perpetrators of the heinous crime. Consequently, the state lawmakers have passed a bill to amend the Kaduna State Penal Code Law, 2017. The law was passed two months after Governor Nasir El-Rufai called for stiffer punishment for rapists in the state. He observed that some convicts often rape more persons after serving their jail terms. Prior to this development, the state penal law stipulates 21 years of imprisonment for rape of an adult and life imprisonment for child rape.
In the amended Penal Code 2020, which has been signed into law by Governor El-Rufai, the punishment include castration for male convicts and bilateral salpingectomy for female convicts. Also, the name of the convicts will be listed on the Sex Offenders Register that will be published by the State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice.
While signing the bill into law, El-Rufai pointed out that the new law and the stiffer penalties are tailored to stem increasing cases of rape and also protect children from the serious crime of rape. We commend the governor and the State Assembly for taking stringent measures to halt the menace in the state. There is no doubt that rape, especially against women and the girl-child, has recently assumed a worrisome dimension in the country. According to the Nigeria Police Force, the country recorded 717 from January to May this year.
Most of the rape cases occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. On June 26, the Katsina State Police Command reported arrest of 40 suspected rapists. Earlier, the Akwa-Ibom State Police Command had announced arrest of a Pastor and 11 others, for rape and defilement. In Enugu, one of the nine cases recorded within the period involved the use of a gun to intimidate the victim, a 16-year-old girl, by the rapist. Last year, the story of 12-year-old Miss Ochanya Ogbaje who died from complications arising from injuries inflicted on her by rapists in Benue State elicited national outrage.
Similarly, Miss Uwa Omozuwa, a 22-year-old 100 Level student of University of Benin, was raped and murdered inside a church at Ikpoba Hill, Benin, Edo State by some rapists.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 2015 indicated that one in four girls and one in 10 boys in Nigeria had experienced sexual violence before the age of 18. Victims of rape range from toddlers to elderly women who are abused in schools, offices, churches, and even in their homes. Male children are also not spared, as the menace is still on the rise.
Unfortunately, some of the perpetrators of rape are relations and friends of the victims while others simply take advantage of the victims, especially the less privileged and the vulnerable.
We condemn the spike in cases of rape across the country. Rape cases are on the increase because most of the culprits are allowed to get away with the crime. Sadly, some of the victims choose not to speak out to avoid stigmatisation.
Kaduna State has led the pace in responding to a serious problem that requires drastic measures to curb. What the state has done is its peculiar response to the menace. It is hoped that the punishment will deter those who may want to indulge in the evil act in future. However, there is need to ensure strict enforcement of the law and to also ensure that innocent people are not punished.
We enjoin other states to come up with stiffer measures to arrest the ugly trend. Extant laws against rape and related sexual offences must be enforced. Let there be public enlightenment on the dangers of rape. Civil society organisations, religious and community leaders should be involved in the exercise.
Apart from being immoral, rape is a crime against the female gender and womanhood. The federal and state governments should work in concert to frontally tackle rape and other forms of sexual violence. All rape cases must be reported promptly to the police for arrest of the perpetrators and diligent prosecution.