Surgical castration has been approved by lawmakers in Kaduna State in Nigeria as punishment for those convicted of raping children under the age of 14. State Governor Nasir el-Rufai, who had initially advocated the surgical approach, will now have to sign the bill for it to become law, according to the BBC.
“We feel that the new law will go a long way to curbing rising cases of rapes in our state,” Kaduna lawmaker Shehu Yunusa told the BBC.”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.
Scores of people in Nigeria have been advocating for surgical castration of convicted rapists for some time now, specifically during the lockdown when the country witnessed an increase in the incidents of rape and other forms of violence against women and children whose movements had become restricted.
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In May, Nigerians took to Twitter and other social media platforms to demand justice for the murder of Uwavera Omozuwa, a 22-year-old student of the University of Benin. She was allegedly raped and attacked in a church where she went to study and died three days after. The hashtag – #JusticeForUwa – trended on Twitter in Nigeria.
Currently in Kaduna, the state penal law states that child rapists are to serve life imprisonment while adult rapists are to be given 21 years sentence. However, Nigeria’s federal law provides 14 years and life imprisonment as punishment for rapists.
Kaduna’s life sentence for child rape and 21 years sentence was passed a few months ago after the state governor, El-Rufai, called for a “stiff punishment” to deter convicts from raping more persons after serving their jail term.
“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,” he said.
“So long as the tool exists, there is the likelihood that he may go back to do it again. Most of the perpetrators are young people, so even after 21 years, they can come back and continue.”
Activists have currently welcomed the bill and are convinced that with surgical castration, repeat offenders will no longer pose a threat. Surgical castration is rarely practiced in the world but has been proven to reduce the sex drives of many offenders, according to several studies. It does not, however, work for everyone.
According to experts, surgical castration may work for offenders whose sex drive motivates their crimes, such as pedophiles, but the practice may not work for those who commit sex crimes for other reasons, like those who abuse drugs or alcohol.