We do hear about how girls are being raped by men, the most hurtful of all is when this act is been done by close relatives like father, uncles, cousins or trusted friends. Women as a result of this do get impregnated and are left to either carry out legal/illegal abortion at the detriment of their lives or keep the child and live with everlasting hurtful memory.
Aside from being impregnated, girls have been infected with incurable sexual transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDS, Human Papilloma Virus_(HPV), Herpes_(HSV), Hepatitis_(HBV) among others.
In most instances the “predators” threatens to take the lives of their victims should they try to expose them. Some families encourage these victims to remain silence due to shame and stigma. The few that is bold enough to speak out, sometimes experiences delay in the justice system which may not work in their favour.
So many reasons have been given by the predators to justify this act, such as, She wore short shirt, her clothes was too tight, she was flirty, she wanted it, she came to my house, I have spent a lot on her, she is my girlfriend, she is a prostitute, she insulted me, I wanted to revenge, she slept over, I said sorry, it was the devil. The list will keep on going if we are to consider all.
The purpose of this writing is to examine rape under Nigerian law, the causes, effect, punishment and proffer recommendations on ways to eradicate it.
2.0. WHAT IS RAPE?
Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration carried out against a person without that person’s consent.
The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority, or against a person who is incapable of giving valid consent, such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated, has an intellectual disability or is below the legal age of consent.
In the Criminal Code of the southern part of Nigerian, Section 357, defines rape as follows,
“Any person who has unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman or girl, without her consent, or with her consent if the consent is obtained by force or by means of threat or intimidation of any kind, or by fear of harm, or by means of false or fraudulent representation as to the nature of the act or, in the case of married woman, by personating her husband, is guilty of an offence which is called rape.”
Furthermore in the penal code of the northern Nigeria, Section 282, says,
“A man is said to commit rape who has sexual intercourse with a woman in any of the following circumstance: against her will; without her consent; with her consent, when the consent is obtained by putting her in fear of death or of hurt. Others include with her consent, when the man knows he is not her husband and that her consent is given because she believes herself to be lawfully married; with or without her consent, when she is under 14 years of age or of unsound mind.” In addition, rape is when a person intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person with any other part of his or her body or anything else without consent, or where such consent is obtained by force or means of threat or intimidation of any kind or by fear of harm or by means of false and fraudulent representation as to the nature of the act or the use of any substance or additive capable of taking away the will of such a person or in the case of a married person by impersonating his or her spouse, See the meaning of Rape in Oludotun Ogunbayo V. The State and Iko v. The State as defined by the court. Sex with a child is rape…
From the above definitions it can be deduced that the following can amount to rape if it is done:
i. without consent
ii. with consent but by force/threats/intimidation
iii. by means of false and fraudulent representation as to the nature of the act,
iv. by the use of substances capable of taking away the will of that persons
v. by a person impersonating a married woman’s husband in order to have sex
vi. with a child.
In Nigeria, apart from in the FCT Abuja, only women are capable of being raped.
3.0. Causes of Rape
The following are among the major causes of Rape:
One important issue raised time and again is related to the size and type off a woman’s dress. Do the dresses provoke? We have instances where men sexually abuse animals. Should we clothe animals too?
Another oft-cited reason is makeup. Rapists allege that women apply heavy makeup especially lipstick to lure men. How do you explain rape on minors, infants, old and aged women, women suffering from unsoundness of mind, women in a coma or those hospitalized with severe ailments? What could they have done to catch a rapist’s fancy?.
*Lack of sex Education
Adolescent boys have an urge to explore. A skewed sex ratio, lack of accessibility and negligible interaction with people of the opposite sex play havoc on impressionable minds fed with easy access to porn. Also, the profanity of using vulgar lyrics in songs needs to be curbed. Most time the woman is projected as nothing more than an object of desire. This causes women to be viewed as commodities, meant to be consumed and ravished. Sexually obsessed rapists don’t consider women as human beings but as an object that can be violated with impunity.
Men mistake themselves as demigods whom women are dying to please in bed. Men like to boast about their sexual encounters equating them with conquests. Sex requires a man to be aggressive, he feels superior and in control. It is all about the need to control and assert power.
*Bad parenting and poor parenting background.
A child who lacks proper home training is vulnerable to being raped or committing rape. A child that is from a home that gives justifications for rape as always caused by women or have a relative that has committed rape and goes free will develop intention of committing rape. Against Feminist Ideology, Some research have shown that some men do rape women simply because they are preaching and advocating for feminism
4.0. Effects of Rape.
The effect of rape may vary depending on the individual involved, however here are some possible effect of rape;
• Vaginal or anal bleeding or infection
• Hypoactive sexual desire disorder
• Vaginitis or vaginal inflammation
• Dyspareunia – painful sexual intercourse
• Vaginismus – a condition affecting a woman’s ability to engage in any form of vaginal penetration
• Chronic pelvic pain
• Urinary tract infections
• Anxiety and fear
• Increase in depression, exhaustion and restless
• Self blame
• Emotional numbers
• Lost of self-esteem
• Lost of privacy by subjecting to investigation and medical examination
• Slut shaming
• Victim blaming
4.0. Punishment for Rape
The highest form of punishment for rape in Nigeria is imprisonment for life with or without canning upon conviction.
The question is does these already existing punishment for rape severe enough to deter these “predators”?
In light of the above My Lord Justice Muhammed J.S.C had this to say;
“the facts revealed in this appeal are sordid and can lead to a conclusion that a man can turn into a barbaric animal. When the “criminal” was alleged to have committed the offence of rape, he was 32 years. His two young victims: Ogechi Kelechi, 8 years old and Chioma, 6 years, were, by all standard underage. What did the appellant want to get out of these underage girls. Perhaps, the appellant forgot that by nature, children, generally, are like animals. They follow anyone who offers them food. That was why the appellant, tactfully, induced the young girls with ice cream and zobo drinks in order to translate his hidden criminal intention to reality, damning the consequences. Honestly, for an adult man like the appellant to have carnal knowledge of underage girls such as the appellant’s victims is very callous and animalistic. It is against the laws of all human beings and it is against God and the State.
Such small girls and indeed all females of whatever age need to be protected against callous acts of criminally like minded people of the appellant’s class. I wish the punishment was heavy so as to serve as deterrent”
Per Muntaka-Coomasie J.S.C in Popoola v State said “the offence appeared to be heinous and heartless. The sentence meted out by the trial court amounts to abdicating its role as a judicial officer. I condemn such type of sentence. The sentence is unnecessarily lenient and loose”.
In the same case above, Per Ngwuta J.S.C said, “I think that the severity of punishment for rape, with particular reference to statutory variety, should rank next to capital punishment”
It is true that the punishment for rape in our already existing law should be heavy enough to serve as deterrent to these “predators”
- Anyone found guilty of committing rape should be castrated chemically or surgically. If, the victim is death the offender should be castrated (chemically or surgically) and should be sentenced to life imprisonment. As it is obtainable in some countries like Indonesia and South Korea
- Thorough investigation must be done on every rape reported cases to avoid convicting a suspect who is falsely accused of rape.
- Medical evidence must be encouraged once a victim reports at a hospital or police station.
- The length of trial of rape cases should be abridged so that the victims will still be able to recount the assault experience with very slight or no variation while giving evidence.
- There must be procedural tests carried out to diagnose infections that may have been contracted.
- Enlightenment campaigns by both government agency and NGOs to discourage sex offences, letting people understand when they are being sexually assaulted.
- Myths such as having sex with a child or virgin to cure diseases should be made known to people as false.
- Blaming victims for being the reason why they were raped should be jettisoned.
- Local rape crisis centres should be established to provide necessary first aid, help and psychological relief to victims of rape and properly advise them on possible and appropriate action to be taken.
- Parents should strive to actively monitor their children and ensure they are kept under close watch.
- Routine examination of private parts of children should be carried out surreptitiously to check for sources of any pain or untoward signs that may show any form of sexual abuse.
- The family still remains the first school of every child. The outcome of a child’s behaviour or conduct in the society largely depends on his/her family background. It is very necessary that parents should take the responsibility of building the characters of their offspring.
- Proper sex education should be provided to both genders. In as much as girls/women are taught to be decent, boys/men should be taught to be responsible.
- Rape cases should be publicized to expose the accused persons, but the victims’ identities should be kept confidential
- Victims should be encouraged to report rape cases and be assured that their identities would be kept confidential.
It is true that the punishment for rape isn’t as important as instilling fear of repercussions in rapists nor can any excuse justify rape. As said by per. Muhammad J.S.C already sited, rape is against the laws of all human beings and it is against God and the State.
There is a great need for one to practice self-discipline. Aside from self-discipline, one need to have self-respect too. By definition, it is a confidence and pride in knowing that your behaviour is both honourable and dignified. When you harass or vilify someone, you not only disrespect them, but yourself as well. Street harassment, sexual violence, sexual harassment, gender-based violence and racism, are all acts committed by a person who in fact has no self-respect. -Respect yourself by respecting others.
Peter Davis is a Member, LID Project Editorial Unit
Email: [email protected]