Senate demands stricter punishment for rapists

Nigerian senate chambers where senators attend plenary
Nigerian senate chambers

The Senate on Tuesday said it is only through effective administration of stricter punishment to sex offenders that cases of rape would reduce in Nigeria.

On this note, the red chamber urged security agencies to employ strategies to check the rising cases of rape while also enforcing the Child Rights Act which prohibits forced marriage.

It urged state Houses of Assembly to amend their laws on rape to make the crime “more punishable.”

Going by the punishments for rape in other countries where the crime is a capital offence, “more punishable” could mean castration as in China; life imprisonment as in India and the U.S.; and death as in Saudi Arabia, Iran, among others.

The discussion around rape and sexual assaults came to the front burner over the week after reports of the murder of some women in Nigeria after being raped.

The police in Jigawa state on Sunday said it arrested 11 men who allegedly raped a 12-year-old.

On Monday Nigerians expressed outrage over the rape and murder of a 23-year-old female 100-level Microbiology student of the University of Benin, Vera Omozuwa, inside a church in Edo State where she reportedly went to study on May 13.

She died 18 days later at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, the police said. While some reported she was raped, the police said they were waiting to be guided by her autopsy report.

These reports triggered the hashtags #JusticeForUwa and #WeAreTired on social media as Nigerians demanded reforms in the criminal and justice system in the country.

On Tuesday, a 30-second footage shared on social media that trended the #AkureToAbuja filmed a man pulling the gown of a lady that sat beside him in a bus, rubbing her thigh in the process.

The Senate, in a motion moved by Sandy Onor (PDP, Cross River), joined Nigerians in condemning the rising cases of rape.

In her remark, Biodun Olujimi (PDP, Ekti) urged authorities to take “proactive measures so the girl child is protected.

“Anything that injures the girl child injures the nation. Rape is real and we must not allow it to go on,” Ms Olujimi noted.

“It is not just arresting the culprits and taking them to the police station, the court and then sentenced to a few years of jail time that is enough. A severe penalty should be given to such culprits,” another senator, Akon Eyakenyi (PDP, Akwa Ibom), remarked.

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