7 Horrific Acts That Are Legal In Some African Countries

One would think that since it’s the 21st century, some of those dreadful acts that were performed in the past must have being put to a stop. But in reality not only have they not being put to a stop, some have being legalized while others are just overlooked.

From incest, female genital mutilation, child marriage to slavery, Here are 7 Horrific Acts That Are Legal In Some African Countries

7 Horrific Acts That Are Legal In Some African Countries

1. Female Genital Mutilation

Female genital mutilation (FGM), defined as the partial or complete injury or removal of external female genitalia, is performed on many girls between the ages of four and 14. Not only is the procedure without medical benefit, but it can also cause a multitude of serious chronic complications.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons and “the bleeding raw edges of the large lips are held together by thorns or other fastening devices” to allow developing scar tissue to seal the vaginal entrance.

The practice of FGM in Africa is one that has persisted due to strong sociocultural influences which ensure that it is secretly done and underreported particularly since the last two centuries.

Although Some countries have laws that, while not specifically addressing FGM, could be used against this practice. The majority of countries, however, do not have any laws against FGM.

Nigeria for instance while having no national law, has a number of state laws against the practice. Likewise, one administration in Somalia, Puntland, has passed a law against FGM. Egypt, while having no national law against the practice, has a ministerial decree banning the practice.

2. Slavery

It may be more than two centuries since the TransAtlantic Slave Trade ended, but slavery is still very much alive in many African countries.

Take Libya for instance, even though slave trade was abolished in Libya in 1853, it still continues unabated particularly since the fall of President Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

More: Top 5 African Countries Where Slavery is Still Widespread

Black Africans from neighboring countries seeking to cross over to Europe through the Libyan coast are usually captured by Libyan rebels and sold off as slaves to local masters.

The practice is so widespread that human rights organizations are now calling for the immediate intervention of the international community.

Other varied forms of slavery also exist across the continent, including domestic service, debt bondage, and more.

3. Child Marriage

The cultural practice of early marriage is one of the most potent threats to the rights of children in modern times with its disturbingly recurring effects being very prevalent in many parts of Africa.

More: Top 10 African Countries With The Highest Rates of Child Marriage

Although Some countries have laws establishing 18 as the minimum age of marriage (weak enforcement has meant these laws have had little impact), The majority of countries, however, do not have any laws against Child Marriage. Nigeria for instance has no national law as the Nigerian Constitution does not establish a minimum age of marriage.,

In Nigeria, 43% of girls are married off before their 18th birthday. 17% are married before they turn 15.

4. Judicial Corporal Punishment

Judicial corporal punishment is ordered by a court of law and is administered in public using canes, rods, or whips. Strokes of these instruments are generally delivered to the bare back or buttocks. Typically, the punishment is severe, often causing deep bruising of the flesh and multiple lacerations of muscles that take days, weeks, or months to heal.

Judicial corporal punishment is legal in Botswana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, and many other African countries.

Recently in Nigeria, a teenager Mohammed Ali who was convicted on a count of theft was sentenced to receive six strokes of the cane for stealing iron rods.

Also in another case a student, Usman Yakubu, was sentenced to six strokes of cane for stealing a pair of sandals at a shop.

5. Rape

In Some parts of Africa, a husband is allowed to rape his wife. Apparently forced sex don’t apply in marriage.

In about half of sub-Saharan African countries, there is no law specifically saying a man can’t force his wife to have sex with him. Also, in at least three countries, laws don’t allow women to bring rape charges against their husbands. Efforts to criminalize marital rape have been controversial, and the results have been mixed.

South Africa was one of the first African country to criminalize marital rape far back In 1993.

Since then, nearly 20 other African countries have taken similar steps.

At the other end of the spectrum are Nigeria, Ethiopia and Kenya, where husbands are exempt. The laws in the countries aforementioned say that rape can only happen outside of wedlock.

6. Incest

Although sex between consenting siblings has been outlawed in most countries in Africa, it is still legal in some eg Cote d’ivoire.

In Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) Incest is not a crime…. the courts over there permits consensual incestuous sex between adults, but not marriage.

7. Stoning

The Islamic penal code prescribes the manner of execution by stoning, or lapidation. Men are buried in sand up to their waists, women up to just above their breasts. And a group of executioners then slays the victim with stones.

Today, stoning as a means of judicial punishment continues in, Sudan and somalia.

According to Sudan’s Criminal Act of 1991, the penalty for adultery by a married person is execution by stoning, and the penalty for an unmarried person is 100 lashes.

Uzonna Anele
Uzonna Anele
Anele is a web developer and a Pan-Africanist who believes bad leadership is the only thing keeping Africa from taking its rightful place in the modern world.


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  2. […] rape etc. Umoja’s population has now expanded to include any women escaping child marriage, FGM (female genital mutilation), domestic violence and rape – all of which are cultural norms among the […]


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