Members of the Movement Against Rape And Sexual Violence (MARS-V) have converged on the Unity Fountain in the nation’s capital Abuja to demand life imprisonment for rapists.
According to the wife of the Governor of Kaduna State, Mrs Aisha El-Rufai, who is leading members of the group to the National Assembly, the current penalty against rapists is not stringent enough and until stricter penalties are put in place, such incidents may continue to occur.
Just recently, the Minister Of Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs Pauline Tallen, noted that the incidents of rape across the country, especially during the lockdown, rose to about 3,600.
In May, news of the rape and murder of several girls surfaced, sparking national outrage.
One such case was the murder of a 100-level student of the Department of Microbiology in the University of Benin (UNIBEN), Vera Uwaila Omozuwa.
The 22-year-old student was reported to have been raped inside a church where she went to read at the Ikpoba Hill area of Benin City, the Edo State Capital.
The men were reported to have struck her in the head with a fire extinguisher after raping her and left her for dead. She was rushed to the University of Benin Teaching Hospital where she later died.
In like manner, other cases of rape of minors were recorded at the time, in Oyo and Jigawa states all within the space of two weeks.
While the state and Federal Governments vowed to ensure justice is served, the incidents have since sparked conversations about the value of the girl child and how the subject of rape and all forms of abuse appear to be trivialized in the country.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives on June 4, voted against a prayer seeking to recommend castration as punishment for rapists.
On July 14, the Senate amended the Criminal Code Act which recommends life imprisonment for kidnappers and deletes the statute of limitations on cases of rape.
Section 218 of the Criminal Code Act (amended) removing the statute of limitations implies that the defilement cases can remain open for as long as possible against the earlier limitation of two months.
The Criminal Code Act Cap. C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 (Amendment) Bill, 2019 (SB.02) was sponsored by Distinguished Senator Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central Senatorial District) on September 24, 2019.
The Senate on Tuesday also eliminated the gender restrictions in the offence of rape as Section 357 of the Criminal Code Act defines rape as an offence against women.
It acknowledged that the male gender can also be victims.
Chairman of the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matter, Opeyemi Bamidele in his presentation, explained that the aim of criminal law and criminal justice system is not only for punishment but also for deterrence, retribution, restoration and rehabilitation of offenders.