Amnesty International Researcher, Nciko wa Nciko, says Madagascar’s bid to have peadophiles surgically castrated is not a silver bullet for the under-reporting of such crimes in the country, where perpetrators often go free due to the victims’ and their families’ fear of retaliation, stigmatisation, and a lack of trust in the judicial system.
The bill was passed in Parlaiment last week Friday and states that those found guilty of raping a child under 10 years old will be surgically castrated and sentenced to life imprisonment.
If the victim is between 10 and 13 years old, they will instead be chemically castrated and face 15 to 20 years of forced labour. Only minors found guilty of such crimes will escape castration.
The punishment would be a culmination of the amendments to the Malagasy Penal Code, which now allows for chemical and surgical castration.
Up till now, the minimum sentence for child rape in the country was five years’ imprisonment.
Amnesty International’s Nciko wa Nciko says stigmatisation of rape survivors in the East African country is prevalent and it is reinforced by the lack of proper reporting mechanisms.
Speaking to YNews, he said the rape of minors is a big issue in that country.
There were reportedly at least 600 rapes of minors recorded last year alone.
Describing the new legislation as cruel, inhumane and degrading, Amnesty International says the new law will not solve the crime.
The organisation has instead called on authorities to find other ways to deal with the issue at hand.
“The Malagasy authorities must instead prioritise a survivor-centered approach, which empowers and enables survivors to report safely without fear of stigmatisation and retaliation; effectively holds perpetrator to account and introduces necessary reforms to the criminal justice system to ensure survivors can access timely justice and remedies, and moreover, strengthens prevention efforts to address and eliminate root causes,” it says.
Nciko wa Nciko says the move could prove problematic in the long term.
“It’s a procedure that cannot be reversed, which could be a problem if a person is found to be innocent,” he explains.
The bill must still be validated by the Supreme Constitutional Court before President Andry Rajoelina signs it into law.
Written by: Nonhlanhla Harris