Madagascar’s Parliament has passed a law which allows chemical and, in some cases, surgical castration of those found guilty of raping a minor.
The move has prompted criticism from international rights groups, but activists in the country have supported it. The activists claim that the move is an appropriate deterrent to curb a “rape culture”.
The law was passed on February 2, and the Senate, the upper house, ratified it last week. Now, the High Constitutional Court must validate it by signing it into law by President Andry Rajoelina.
The topic was initially brought up in December by the president and his government sought a legal amendment in the island nation of 28 million people.
According to Justice Minister Landy Mbolatiana Randriamanantenasoa, the law is needed due to a rise in child rape cases.
In a report by the news agency The Associated Press, she stated that 600 incidences of rape of minors were registered in 2023, with 133 occurring as early as January this year.
As quoted, said, “Madagascar is a sovereign country which has the right to modify its laws in relation to circumstances and in the general interest of the people. The current penal code has not been enough to curb the perpetrators of these offenses.”
The law noted that surgical castration “will always be pronounced” for those guilty of raping a child under the age of 10.
Meanwhile, the cases of rape against children between the ages of 10 and 13 will be punished by surgical or chemical castration. The rape of minors aged between 14 and 17 will be punished by chemical castration.
Randriamanantenasoa said, “We wanted to protect children much more. The younger the child, the greater the punishment.”
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The law faces criticism
The law has been criticised by the rights group Amnesty International, which termed it as “inhuman and degrading treatment” that was inconsistent with the country’s constitutional laws.
Nciko wa Nciko, an advisor for Madagascar at Amnesty, said that the law should rather focus on protecting victims.
“On the island, complaint procedures and trials are not carried out anonymously. There is a lack of confidence in the Malagasy criminal justice system, due to opacity and corruption. And reprisals against rape victims are frequent. However, the law does not combat these factors,” he said.
(With inputs from agencies)