The provisions in Nigeria’s new Sexual Offences Bill will lower the age of consent to 11, reports Nigeria Watch.
The bill was allegedly rushed through the Nigerian National Senate and approved on June 4th, reports International Business Times. Forty other bills were passed on the same day.
Under the new bill, rapists and those engaging in sexual intercourse with children below 11 years will face life imprisonment.
Senator Chris Anyanwu sponsored the bill that aimed for more thorough legislation.
“The Sexual Offenses Law sees to make a comprehensive legislation on sexual offenses by criminalizing certain acts such as sexual tourism, child pornography and cultural and religious sexual offences in our criminal jurisprudence,” said Anyanwu. “The new law also provides for effective witness protection program to protect victims and witnesses in trial for sexual offenses.”
Nigerian Senate president David Mark allegedly congratulated Senator Anyanwu on the bill, vouching for its efforts “to evolve a stronger law against sexual violations.”
The Sexual Offences Bill also outlines punishments for offenses including gang rape, incest, and those who deliberately pass the HIV virus to unknowing victims.
The bill’s inadvertent placing of age of consent to 11 is already facing criticism.
Femi Fani-Kayode, prominent Nigerian politician, took to Twitter to express his thoughts on the new measure.
“The Senate has passed a law which makes it legal to have sex with an 11 year old child. That is change for u [sic]. Welcome to the new Nigeria,” tweeted Fani-Kayode.
Dr. Emilr Secker of Safe Child Africa, a charity advocating for children’s rights, says Nigeria’s sexual offenses laws are controversial and differ across the country, according to Newsweek.
The bill is expected to pass Nigeria’s House of Representatives on Wednesday. To go into effect, President Muhammadu Buhari must sign it.
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