• No, let’s kill them by hanging instead –Activists
• Legislation archaic, barbaric –Lawyer, cleric
By Cosmas Omegoh, Ndubisi Orji, Abuja, Sola Ojo, Kaduna
It is official. Soon, a new law in Kaduna State will take effect as soon as the state governor, Mallam Nasiru el-Rufai, signs it. The law will give the government the right to castrate anyone found guilty of rape.
Already, this new law is generating ripples. Some stakeholders have welcomed the legislation as “long overdue,” insisting that rapists ought to die by “hanging,” while some maintained that the bill is “barbaric, archaic and pre-mediaeval.”
Kaduna State government last week announced the passage of the bill and its subsequent transmission to Governor el-Rufai for assent.
The House via its Twitter handle said: “The bill recommend total castration for rapists in the state.”
The house majority leader also tweeted that “a bill to amend the Kaduna State Penal Court Law No.5 of 2017 has … 09/09/2020 been passed into law by @Kadlegislature. The bill recommends total castration for rapists in the state.”
This was coming even when there is an already existing law, which recommended 21 years imprisonment for rape of an adult and life imprisonment in the case of a child.
Earlier, el-Rufai had advocated “in addition to life imprisonment or 21 years’ imprisonment, anyone convicted of rape will have his organ surgically removed so that even after he finishes his term, he will not be able to rape anyone again.
“So long as the tool exists, there is the likelihood that he (the offender) may go back to do it again.”
Reps reject similar bill
However, the House of Representatives, on June 4, rejected castration as a punishment for convicted rapists.
The Chairman, House Committee on Finance, Abiodun Faleke, while contributing to the debate on motion of urgent national importance sponsored by Rotimi Agunsoye on the rising cases of rape and other violence against women and girls in the country, proposed that convicted rapists should be castrated. He said that would serve as deterrent to other would-be rapists.
The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, before subjecting the amendment to a vote raised a poser as to what will happen if the rapist was a woman. However, no one provided an answer.
When eventually Faleke’s proposition was subjected to a voice vote, the majority of members present voted against it.
Rape as a crime
Bukola Lameed, a family, and child mental health practitioner and founder, Safety Republic International, described rape as “having a carnal knowledge of another person without their consent. It is something that damages the psychological and sexuality part of a human being.
“Rape is on both sides. It is not gender bias. A man can rape a woman; a woman can rape a man.
“Anything that has to do with assault either with penetration or without the person’s consent is rape. And when you talk about rape we have them in diverse forms. We have child sexual abuse, which is having intercourse with a minor. And in Nigeria the official age of a minor is between 0-18 years. When the victim is older than 18, we say that rape has occurred. But if the victim is younger than 18, we say that sexual abuse has occurred.”
Prof Ishaq Akintola of Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) described rape as “a vicious crime – a crime against humanity. Rape leaves the victim in trauma for live.”
Consequences of rape
Lameed told Sunday Sun that “once a victim is raped, their self-confidence and self-esteem are lost.
“Research has shown that once rape is committed, there is every tendency that the victim will rape another person or suffer depression and even kill themself.
“A lot of things including stigma goes with rape. So, nobody wants to associate with a rape victim.
“But a rape apologist will tell you ‘oh it is because of what the person is wearing.’ There is no excuse for rape. Once people realise that there is very strict punishment for rape, we will be able to cut down on this epidemic in our society.”
Also condemning rape, Mr Leye Adepoju, a legal practitioner noted: “I believe and frown strictly at rape. Why should any person try to commit that kind of crime? It doesn’t add to any person’s economic value; it only shows that the offender is virtually a dog.”
Federal govt dismay
The Federal Government recently expressed dismay at the rising incidents of rape.
Minister for Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs Pauline Tallen, claimed that about two million Nigerian women and girls are raped annually.
According to a poll credited NOIPOLLS in July 2019, “about three in 10 Nigerians disclosed that they knew someone who had been raped in the past and the rape victims were particularly minors and young adults.”
Police on rape
The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, stated recently that between January and May 2020, a total of 717 cases of rape were reported. He noted that 799 suspects were arrested while 631 cases had been conclusively investigated and the suspects were charged to court while 52 cases were still being investigated.
Castration law barbaric, pre-mediaeval
Reacting to the Kaduna law, Mr Adepoju told Sunday Sun that “I know very well that each state of assembly has the powers to make laws for its state. And whatever laws they make are valid unless are inconsistent with the laws of the country.
“So, if they are of the view that an offender should be castrated, well they have their reasons.
“But that shows the exposure of the society for which the law is made. That law sounds primitive to me. But if they feel that is good for them, I will not castigate them for it.
“I will only urge anyone who is in the state to be conscious of the fact that there is such a law.”
Similarly, Rev. Fr. Ben Ogu of Catholic Diocese of Ahiara in Imo State, argued that “I hope castration is not another Muslim Sharia law, similar to amputation. That would be too primitive and as savagery and barbaric as what it tends to fight.
“But unarguably, this senseless rapemania and the dimension it is taking begs for radical approach, but it has to be human and in line with civilised attitude.
“Life imprisonment without option of fine will be enough deterrent, provided there is no loophole.
“If those interested in castration insist, and if we cannot stop them, then let those interested in raping know in advance the heavy consequence and consider their choice.
“It is not just a question of castration being heavy, light or commensurate, it is simply grotesque, gory and its savagery similar to rape.
“While there is no way rape should be tolerated in its slightest sense, its deterrence should not be as horrendous and evil as the offence it tends to curb.
“My other worry is that terrible laws in Nigeria are usually discriminatory and most times reserved for the less privileged and the handicap. Whatever law that is made in this regard should apply for all, including the relatives of the elite.
“If rapists should be castrated, then, bandits, killer herdsmen who are more murderous need harsher laws and castration if we are honest and sincere.”
Countering their submission, Prof Akintola said that there is nothing wrong with the law, while expressing his full support for it.
“From the Islamic perspective, it is okay. We need to make people realise that if they rape, there will be consequences. It is because people have not been punished severely that rape continues to spread.
“If we say that such a punishment is severe, is rape not a severe crime? Rapists should be taught bitter lessons. And this is just one of them.”
Lameed lashing out at rapists said: “I have to be very blunt because of the kind of things we see on the field. I must say that the legislation is highly welcome, though it coming rather late.
“Honestly, castration is even an easier way to deal with the situation; we are even advocating that they should just kill rapists. They should just die by hanging because one of the things that helps this crime to thrive is that we don’t have very strict punishment for culprits.
“Statistics show that in the last five months, we have recorded over 717 cases. This is just like about five per cent of the rape that occur every day.
“WHO says that a child is being raped every two minutes. And Nigeria has just declared rape an epidemic; that means it is something that has gone deep into the society. And if we don’t mount a legislation like what we are having in Kaduna now, things will get worse.
The executive Director, Center for Resolution and Study of Domestic Violence and first female professor with Kaduna State University, Prof Hauwau Evelyn Yusuf Prof Hauwau is happy about the law.
“For us, it is a victory,” she exclaimed. “We foresee the possibility of the reduction if not complete eradication of rape in Kaduna State with this development.
“To us, this is a battle won because the life sentence that has always been there before seems not to have much impact in the fight against rape and other sexual abuses.
“By the time this new law is implemented, we believe it would serve as a deterrent if anybody is prosecuted and convicted.
“It’s something we have been agitating for and it is a welcome idea and we thank the Kaduna State House of Assembly for that.”
Other states should emulate Kaduna
Akintola enjoined other states assemblies to emulate the Kaduna House by enacting similar laws.
“This law will not stop rape, but it will reduce it drastically.
“There was a time we were shooting armed robbers during the military era. It didn’t stop stealing. It didn’t stop armed robbery, but reduced it.”
Similarly, Lameed wants other states to toe the same line. “Let other state assemblies follow suit. They should say what they do and do what they say. It is one thing to make laws and another thing for the laws to be implemented.
“I’m glad that the legislation is starting in the North considering the prevalent effects of religion and culture there.
“A lot of rape occurs in that part of the country. Let’s start from there and hope it comes down to the eastern and western parts.”
But Leye does not believe the castration law will resonate with other states.
“Let me state clearly that I won’t expect other states to emulate that law. It is such a mediaeval law. I see it as being prehistoric; I see it as inappropriate and a bit barbaric. So, I don’t expect other states to emulate them.”
Can it curb rape?
Mr Adepoju does not believe the law will stop rape. “I don’t think so. The only problem that we have is that the number of instances of alleged rape has increased tremendously and that is affecting everyone. I believe that the offence is as old as human and I think such as punishment will not be a deterrent.
“Rape caries life imprisonment. And I think that is sufficient. Because if a person is convicted to life imprisonment, there is no way he won’t be there for 25- 25 years.
“So, I think the existing law on rape, if properly enforced, and thoroughly prosecuted is adequate.”
But Lameed believes to the contrary. According to her, “to a large extent, this legislation will help to curb rape. But we know how our judicial and the Nigerian system generally are.
“I do a lot of intervention; I go to police stations and I see cases and people will say ‘it is a family affair; leave us to settle it amicably.’ So, it is one thing to make laws and another to adopt it.”
What obtains in other climes
Lameed said that “as far as I know, there are countries especially in Europe where rapists go in for 32 years. In some parts of Asia, they have castration, life sentence and death sentence by hanging.
“During one of my outings on child advocacy, we had participants from Asia who told us what obtains in their countries. If we can imbibe things like that it would be great.
“But unfortunately, some rapists are influential people in our society. We have a lot of them marrying kids as young as 11. And these are the same people who are in power and we are looking up to them to stop rape. It is a conflict; it a tug of war. Slowly, but surely, we will get there.”