What you need to know:
- Women who sexually violate children aged 14 years or below in Kaduna State, northern Nigeria, have their fallopian tubes removed before being killed.
- The harsh penalties came into effect in September last year, following approval of Kaduna State Penal Code (Amendment) Bill, 2020 by the State’s governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai.
If a woman sexually violates a child aged 14 years or below in Kaduna State, northern Nigeria, her fallopian tubes are removed before she is put to death. The same fate befalls male sex offenders. Upon conviction, the men are castrated before being killed.
The harsh penalties came into effect in September last year, following approval of Kaduna State Penal Code (Amendment) Bill, 2020 by the State’s governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai.
The leadership hopes the lethal punishment will deter sexual violence in the country where the crime’s prevalence rate among girls aged 15-19 stands at 6.6 per cent.
Are these harsh punishments replicable in Kenya?
Gender specialist Dr Enock Opuka says inflicting pain in the form of punishment does little in preventing occurrence of sexual violence.
Instead, he advocates for proper upbringing that could ensure children grow up well-disciplined to respect the rights of everyone in society.
“With discipline, a boy knows how to respect a girl and a girl knows how to respect a boy,” he says.
“You cannot prevent sexual violence through harsh penalties. Sex offenders will always find a way of avoiding being caught,” he says.
He argues: “A man who knows it is wrong to defile a child will not do so in the first place. Instilling discipline in our children is the best way to deter sexual violence.”
Program officer at Equality Now Jean Paul Murunga, says the existing penalties in Kenya are punitive enough.
“What is lacking is adequate money to enforce the law that would include training police officers on the law and establishing forensic labs to identify perpetrators,” he says.
“If we don't implement the laws we already have, additional penalties will just be on paper but in reality, none is convicted,” he adds.
Under the Sexual Offences Act (2006), defilement of children aged 11 years and below attracts life imprisonment. Committing the offence on a child aged between 12 and 15 years, also sends one to a jail term of not less than 20 years.
But sexual violence cases in Kenya take years to conclude, with many factors contributing including loss of evidence, disappearance of witnesses, compromised parents, few judicial officers and interference from kangaroo courts run by community elders.
For instance, only 1,985 sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) cases were concluded during the 2019/2020 period against 4,088 new cases reported during the period.
Anti-SGBV advocates continue to call for special courts to expedite conclusion of such matters within six months.