Should Nigeria have a sex offender registry?

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Yes, it is high time Nigeria had a sex offender registry because we now have a high rate of rape, sexual violence and assaults in the society. It should be a gender centre where both men and women can report such cases. We have a lot of cases of sexual harassment at work and in other places including educational institutions especially within our university environment, where most of such incident go unreported. I have also met men who were harassed by women. There is a colleague of mine (a lawyer) who was harassed by a woman. Having a sex offender registry will greatly reduce incidents of sexual harassment.

It will not only serve as a deterrent to others, it will ensure that sex offenders are brought to book. It will also provide an opportunity for victims of sexual violence to report offenders and get justice as is the case in other climes.

Most times, when you take matters bordering on sexual offences to the police, they dismiss it as a family matter, so no serious investigation is carried out and victims are left to suffer in silence.

For instance, they may begin to mention reasons why a victim of rape was raped. You hear things like: “can’t you see how short your dress is? Why did you go there alone at night? All these things become like a double jeopardy for the victim of such crimes.

If we have a registry that one can go quietly, report and register one’s complaint and the offender is invited for interrogation and when found culpable, he or she is punished; victims will be interested in reporting their ordeal to relevant authorities and seek help.

I feel very bad because many ladies are sexually abused and they hardly get justice because when they report to the police or other security agencies, their cases are treated with levity and offenders go unpunished.

If the government is serious and it puts in place a sex offender registry, it will go a long way in curtailing the number of cases of sexual harassments because many offenders and would be offenders will be afraid of getting listed in the hall of shame which the register represents.

I support the establishment of sex offender registry. It will bring a lot of sanity to our society. •Dr. Biola Adimula (Chairperson, Women and Child Watch Initiative)

Habeeb Whyte

It would be a welcome development if Nigeria has a sex offender registry. The registry would harbour the register that contains the details of anyone convicted, cautioned or released from prison for sexual related offences.

The register is kept by the police with information of the sex offender such as passport number, national insurance number, bank account details, DNA, fingerprints and photographs.

If your relative has been accused or convicted of a sex crime, such person’s details will be held on the Sex Offender register. This may have some implications for you and other members of your family, particularly people under the age of 18, who live in your home.

Sexual related offences are crimes against the most vulnerable set of people in our society and with the rising wave of rape and other forms of sexual abuse involving, especially, minors, the move for the country to have a sex offender register is a welcome idea.

Keeping such a record would mark a turning point in the campaign against rape.

It is mandatory for sex offences to be reported, irrespective of the offender and the way the issue is settled. The register is expected to complement the existing crime data register to enable law enforcement agencies to prosecute sexual related offences.

If this record is kept, it would make the offenders think twice before committing such offences. There is a need for proper education in order to curb sexual offences.

The penalty for such offences should be commensurate with the crime. The current penalty for sex offences is not strong enough to dissuade others from committing such crimes. • Habeeb Whyte (Legal practitioner)

I strongly believe that Nigeria is ripe for a sex offender registry. This country needs to know all those that have committed sex offences in the past, even if they have served their terms in jail, we need to know who they are and the country needs to keep track of their activities because once a sex offender commits the crime, chances are that he will do it again.

When we have a sex offender registry, it will deter others from committing such crimes and the nation will be the better for it. I strongly believe that women and young girls should be protected from sex offences and offenders.

One of the ways to deter sex offenders is to expose them. Let everybody know the identity of such people to enable the public take proper precaution in dealing with them. People will be in a better position to make informed judgments about who their children and wards associate with.

The sex offender register should also be made public so that we can track such people to prevent them from committing such crimes in the feature. At the same time, the sex offender registry will also help us as a nation to provide programmes targeted at rehabilitating offenders even as victims are taken through therapy. Sometimes, these offenders may also be victims of mental illness who may require help to live meaningful lives.   • Dr. Betta Edu (Director-General, Cross River State Primary Health Care Development Agency)

Absolutely, I think it is very critical to have a sex offender registry and for such offenders to be tracked so that whenever they go to a certain area, people would be notified. Sex abuse has become a very serious issue and in this country, we don’t see sex offences as criminal cases that they are.

They are often considered as misdemeanours. Because of that, the kind of punitive measures such offenders deserve are often not given. These sex offenders are not murderers but they destroy lives. They cause psychological and emotional trauma and the way it has become rampant is unbelievable.

Ultimately, women are not as safe as they ought to be. It is true that we have a poor record-keeping culture in Nigeria, but if we make it a priority, we will get it done; that is what I believe. The first step is for all stakeholders to agree that there is a need for such a register because if we don’t agree, we won’t work towards it. People who have been found to have committed sexual related offences must be prosecuted and sentenced and then placed on the register. We need to be clear that it is not just about people being put on the register without justice.

They must face the full wrath of the law. I also believe that this register should be put online for all Nigerians to have access to it. It should be something that everyone should have access to because if people cannot access it, then it cannot help anyone. The register is also very important because most times, sex offenders are repeat offenders. They hardly stop and it is good for people to know about them and avoid them. • Aisha Yesufu (Human rights activist)

Wale Oluwafemi

Yes, Nigeria should have a sex offender registry. There are so many unreported cases of rape happening in Nigeria.

This is due to the stigmatisation of victims. So many victims would prefer to suffer in silence instead of being subjected to public ridicule. There are also cases of assault and victimisation especially, among female students.

Many of those that have been found wanting in the past still walk the streets freely while their victims are left to suffer trauma in silence.

But when a sex offender registry is opened, those who are listed in the register will have their image tarnished for life and members of the public will be cautious while dealing with them. •Wale Oluwafemi (An Ekiti-based civil servant)

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