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Rape: Nigeria should impose stiffer punishment

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Sir: When the punishment that is tied to a crime is flexible or not tough, such a crime will continue to record patronage. Such is the case with rape in Nigeria as it has become so rampant in society. In the space of three to five days, about four major cases of rape have been reported across the country. Sadly, these were not the only cases because, most rape victims have chosen to live with their pain and anguish due to stigmatisation and shame. More so, many believe that reporting to the appropriate authorities would keep the case drag on for only God knows when and at the end of the day, may not bring the rapist to book.

The sordid tale of the Jigawa 12-years-old girl, who was gang-raped by twelve able-bodied rapists is absolutely disturbing and the 22-year-old student of University of Benin, Uwavera Omozuwa, who was also gang-raped and mercilessly murdered with a fire extinguisher in a church where she went to read is indeed animalistic. As if that is enough bad news another teenager, Bello Barakat was reported to have been raped and killed in Ibadan. Barakat, 18, remains was seen around her street. Until recently, I didn’t know the punishment that is tied to rape, I was taken aback when I learnt about the punishment. A life imprisonment for rape is a soft punishment. Besides, how many rapists have been sentenced considering the pegged jail term? Rapists are known to walk into prisons and walk out after finite years. Painfully, some of these rapists are recidivists, they will continue from where they stopped after serving the punishment.

We’ve been using the rape punishment of life imprisonment for sometime now, and nothing has changed so far. Instead, cases of rape are multiplying daily. When you try a product and it does not work as expected, supplanting it with another is not a bad idea. We didn’t start with a life imprisonment, we started somewhere just as other countries that have changed theirs. If the previous punishments they were using had worked well for them, they wouldn’t have changed it. Unarguably, they didn’t work. India punishment for rape was previously a life imprisonment, and now it is a death sentence. In China, it is a death sentence or castration. It is beheading within days in Saudi Arabia. In North Korea, it is a death by firing squad.

If we view these countries very well, they were once in our shoes. But when they realised that cases of rape were getting out of hand in their countries, they stiffing the punishment and it has paid off for them. This is a call to the appropriate authorities, the rape punishment which is life imprisonment we are using in this country is due for change. It is high time we should learn from China, India, North Korea and other countries with a stiffer punishment. We can’t continue to endanger the lives of our children and women. 
Aremu Lukman Umor wrote from Lagos.

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