Zainab Maina, the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development on Wednesday called on lawmakers to make the punishments specified for sex offenders in the proposed Sexual Offences Bill 2014 stiffer for culprits.
She made the call in Abuja during her presentation at a Public Hearing on Sexual Offences Bill 2014 and the Administration of Criminal Justice Bill 2014.
A suspected victim of rape
Maina also advocated for the harmonisation of similar bills before both chambers of the National Assembly as well as clearer definitions of terms to achieve a uniformed aim, which is the protection of women, children, the elderly and persons with disabilities.
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“For instance, in the case of defilement of children under Section 7 of the bill, there is need to merge sub-sections (1)-(3) and part of (4) into one section, as they are all crimes committed against minors (ages 0-17 years) and liable upon conviction to imprisonment for life” she said.
The minister stated that for cases regarding improper conduct with a child or adult, under sections 10(5) of the proposed bill, the ministry believes that the option of N20, 000 fine in place of imprisonment of seven years was too subtle and recommended a minimum penalty of N500, 000.
The ministry suggested a minimum of 10 years imprisonment for those who engage in child pornography, a minimum of N500, 000 for the offence of indecent exposure in place of the proposed N20, 000 fine and a minimum of N500, 000 fine for sexual harassment instead of the proposed N50, 000 fine.
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“Consequently, we consider the sum ranging from N500, 000, N1, 000,000, N3, 000,000 penalties for juristic persons to be a slap on the wrist” Maina said. “These organisations/companies that peddle in women, girls and drugs and have immense financial resources at their disposal; therefore, the payment of penalties stipulated in the bill will not in any way affect their resources. The amount should be increased in order to deter would be perpetrators of this offence”.