Irreversible punishment – The Nation

  • Long jail terms will do for rapists. Castration appears extreme, worse in cases of miscarriage of justice

Kaduna State in North West Nigeria has joined Indonesia, Ukraine and Czech Republic in approving laws authorising the surgical castration of some rapists. The governor of the state, Mallam Nasir El-Rufa’i, last week  Wednesday signed into law the amended penal code 2020 which was earlier passed by the state house of assembly.

The implication of the law is that anyone convicted of raping anyone less than 14 years would be surgically castrated and the rape of an adult gets a 21-year jail term, while the rape of a minor attracts a life imprisonment. Female rapists are henceforth to undergo bilateral salpingectomy.

Rape is one of the most heinous crimes. It’s rising incidence and that of paedophilic incest as well as other sexual assaults have reached alarming proportions in the country. The devastating effects of these forced sexual relationships, often against minors, have become one of the worst crimes against humanity in the twenty-first century.

However, the idea of surgical castration of convicted rapists is too conclusive and harsh, and would make the state literally punishing savagery with savagery. Make no mistakes about it, rape in any form must be punished severely. Indeed, the Kaduna State government might have very good intentions, but surgical castration for men, and bilateral salpingectomy for women, are two very unalterable medical procedures that are as final as they are barbaric.

We believe there are other very effective measures that can still serve as a deterrent to prospective offenders. Cases of rape are rampant because for so long the security agencies and the judiciary have not worked very effectively in investigating and prosecuting reported cases; this emboldens future offenders.

The surgical procedures are too final if we consider the fact that sometimes, some individuals  falsely accuse other people  of rape and the accused are often convicted and jailed, and decades later, either through confessions or through forensic analysis, those accusations are found to be false. In a case like this, how can the falsely accused be restored to their previous state?

Life imprisonment or many years in jail with hard labour could still serve as a deterrent if only there can be diligent prosecution. We equally believe that rape as a crime has not been properly addressed in ways to tackle the root causes fundamentally.

There is an erosion of the value system in the society. In pristine times, there were actions that were taboos. Today, the society appears very passive in condemning certain evils in a bid to be socially correct. The socio-cultural idea about sexualising women seems a very new one. In the pre-colonial era, clothings were barely enough to cover the private parts, yet rape cases were almost non-existent unlike the puerile excuses that victims of rape are guilty of flaunting their sexuality.

Religious organisations must begin to re-evaluate their projection of women as merely there for sexual gratification of the men. Real sex education must be incorporated in school curricular and women and girls treated in more dignified manner that can elicit respect from everyone.

We also wish to point out that child-marriage and incestuous paedophilic actions also constitute rape, given the dictionary and legal definitions of rape. All those adults that engage or encourage child-marriages are guilty of rape and conspiracies to rape. Unfortunately, the minors forced into marriages before they reach the age of consent and the biological reproductive age are the silent rape victims whose silence and vulnerability might not attract castration for the offenders.

The fact that Northern Nigeria has one of the highest cases of Vistico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) a very devastating health condition that mainly affects child-brides and ruins them for life, while the offenders merely move on to other child-brides is an injustice as repulsive as rape and must get the urgent attention of every governor in Nigeria. Merely signing the amended penal code into law should not be the end.  Rape of girls/women, sodomisation of boys, by men is definitely more than what the nation acknowledges to be rape.

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