23:46 GMT30 October 2020
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    Under a new law signed by the governor of Nigeria’s Kaduna state, those convicted of rape will now be surgically castrated or face bilateral salpingectomy, the removal of the Fallopian tubes.

    In addition to the surgical punishment, which depends on the offender’s sex, rapists will also face life imprisonment, reported the Nigerian outlet Daily Post.

    According to Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai, anyone convicted of raping a child under the age of 14 will also be handed the death penalty under the new statute. 

    Under previous laws, rapists faced a maximum penalty of 21 years in prison for the rape of an adult and life in prison for the rape of a minor.

    “[The] drastic penalties are required to help further protect children from a serious crime,” the governor said, the NZ Herald reported.

    The new law in Kaduna, the 18th state of Nigeria located in the country’s northwest, is the most stringent legislation against rape in the country.

    The new legislation comes after public outrage following an increase in rapes during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    In June, Nigerian Minister for Women’s Affairs Pauline Tallen revealed that the number of rapes in the country had spiked to three times the norm during the COVID-19 lockdown.

    “I know we have always had rape in this country, but with the lockdown of people in homes because of COVID-19, women and children are locked down with their abusers,” Tallen said at the time, AP reported.

    In addition, Nigeria has the third-highest number of child brides in the world, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

    In fact, around 44% girls in Nigeria are forced into marriage before their 18th birthday, and 18% are married before the age of 15, according to Girls Not Brides, a nongovernmental organization with the mission of ending child marriage throughout the world.

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