News & Opinion | September 18, 2020 9:20 am

Men Can Be Castrated for Rape in Nigeria, According to New Law

Kaduna state is intensifying penalties for rape as sexual violence in the country surges

castration
Rapists in Nigeria could face tough new penalties.
GaiBru_Photo/iStock/Getty Images

Men convicted of rape in one Nigerian state could face surgical castration, according to a new law.

The harsh new Kaduna state legislation, signed Wednesday, also holds that adult men convicted of raping a minor will face the death penalty, while women found guilty of rape could have their fallopian tubes removed.

The updated punishments come as sexual violence surges in Nigeria amid the pandemic, with nearly 800 cases reported in the country between January and May, sparking calls for more severe legislation from women’s rights groups.

Kaduna’s governor, Nasir el-Rufai, said the “drastic” measures are “required to help further protect children from a serious crime.”

Previously, rape laws in the area carried a maximum sentence of 21 years in prison for raping an adult, and a life sentence for the rape of a child.

The Kaduna state government is the only one in West Africa to institute castration as a penalty for rape, but some activists hope to see the legislation picked up elsewhere.

“In retrospect, if everyone that raped me was put through that [surgical castration] other people that they might have also raped would have been spared the calamity,” said gender activist and rape survivor Dorothy Njemanze, according to Sky News.

However, while the harsh punishments may be intended to decrease sexual violence, some argue they may have the opposite effect, with the drastic measures ultimately deterring survivors from reporting rape.

“You’re going to get fewer cases of rape and sexual violence reported,” Nigerian lawyer and activist Chidi Odinkalu told the New York Times, claiming women and girls in Nigeria could become outcasts in their families and communities for reporting a rape that ends in a man’s castration, leaving survivors less likely to come forward.

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