31 August 2022 | A Nigerian Adventist pastor has attracted attention for calling on the country’s government on all levels to increase the severity of penalties for those convicted of rape and other gender-based violence.

According to Nigeria’s Leadership news site, Musa Munaji, who is district pastor of Asokoro Seventh-day Adventist Church in Abuja (Nigeria’s capital), made the appeal during an “EndItNow Emphasis Day,” a denominational effort to speak up against domestic abuse.

Munaji said perpetrators “shouldn’t be hidden once they are found guilty, but [should be] allowed to face the consequences so as to put a stop to the act,” reported Leadership.

The Adventist pastor condemned violence of any kind—either emotional, physical, or psychological—and drew attention to abuse that takes place within the church community:

“As a church, we are saying no to violence of any type—against women, men, or children,” said Munaji.

“There are many accounts of violence—rape, emotional abuse, and others—within the church, and most of these perpetrators are active members of the church,” stressed the Adventist minister.

At the same event, the director of North Central Nigeria Conference (NCNC) Adventist Women’s Ministry, Laraba Grace Okah, said women and children have suffered abuse, and she emphasized that “perpetrators have not faced enough” punishment.

According to Sky News, Nigeria saw a large increase in reported rape during the country’s COVID restrictions. Women’s rights groups have called for heavier penalties against rapists and other sex offenders.

Sky News reported that legislation introduced in 2020 in the Nigerian state of Kaduna mandates surgical castration for male rapists and the death penalty for men who rape children under 14. Women in the state, convicted of raping children under 14, will have their Fallopian tubes removed. Kaduna has the strictest laws in Nigeria regarding rape.

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