The government of Andry Rajuelina, President of Malagasy, has proposed a new law. Photo: RIJASOLO/AFP
Madagascar's parliament has passed a law that will punish pedophiles with surgical castration.
The law has drawn criticism from international human rights groups but has the support of some local activists who say it is necessary to curb the “culture rape.”
The island nation's upper house of parliament approved the law last week.
It must now be ratified by the Supreme Constitutional Court and signed by President Andry Rajoelina, whose government proposed the changes.< p>Landy Mbolatiana Randriamanantenasoa, the justice minister, said the measure was necessary because of the rise in child rape cases.
There were 600 reported cases of child rape in 2023, she said, and 133 so far in January this year.
“The current criminal code is not enough to curb those responsible for these crimes,” she said.
Landy Mbolatiana Randriamanantenasoa The Minister of Justice said that “the current criminal code is not enough to curb criminals.”
The new law states that surgical castration will “always be declared” for the rape of a child under the age of 10.
Cases of rape of children between the ages of 10 and 13 will be punished by surgical or chemical castration.< /p>
Rape of minors between the ages of 14 and 17 will be punishable by chemical castration. Offenders also face harsher penalties, up to life in prison.
Chemical castration is the use of drugs to block hormones and reduce sexual desire. This is usually reversible once the medication is stopped. Surgical castration is irreversible.
Several countries and some states in America, including California and Florida, allow chemical castration for some sex offenders. Surgical castration as a punishment is much less common. The use of both is highly controversial.
Amnesty International said the punishment would amount to “inhuman and degrading treatment”, contrary to Madagascar's constitutional laws, and did not address serious shortcomings in rape investigations.
“On the island, complaints procedures and trials are not conducted anonymously,” said Nchiko wa Nsiko, Amnesty's Madagascar adviser. “There is a lack of trust in the Malagasy criminal justice system due to opacity and corruption. Repression against rape victims is not uncommon. However, the law does not address these factors.”
Jessica Lolonirina Niwosekheno of Women Breaking the Silence, an anti-rape group, said: “(The new law) is progress because it is a deterrent. . punishment. This may prevent potential attackers from taking action… but only if we, the citizens, understand the existence and importance of this new punishment.”