SEXUAL VIOLENCE AND THE LAWS ON RAPE IN NIGERIA

SEXUAL VIOLENCE AND THE LAWS ON RAPE IN NIGERIA

By- Prosperity Omezuruike

Sexual violence simply put, is any act or attempt to obtain sexual acts by violence, sexual violence could also mean physically pressuring, coercing, or forcing a person against their will to participate in any form of sexual acts. While Sexual violence remains an underreported phenomenon in Nigeria, It is important to know that there are various forms of sexual offense and violence under the Nigerian Law, these include but is not limited to;

INDECENT ASSAULT

According to section 353 of the criminal code, the punishment for indecent assault is three years imprisonment for a female offender, and two years’ imprisonment for a male offender upon conviction.

INDECENT EXPOSURE

Section 26 of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act defines indecent exposure as any person who intentionally exposes his or her genital organs or a substantial part thereof with the intention of causing distress to the other party or that another person seeing it may be tempted to commit an offense under this Act commits an offense termed “indecent exposure”

INCEST

Incest – Again, section 25 of the VAPP Act provides that where a person knowingly and wilfully has carnal knowledge of another within the prohibited degrees of affinity and consanguinity, he or she has committed the offense of incest and is liable imprisonment.

A violent offense only equated with murder is Rape, this is because apart from the lifetime psychological damage the victim suffers, the culprit may kill the victim while trying to force himself/herself on the victim; also in cases where more than one culprit attacks a single victim, it can lead to the death of the victim. Basically, the effects of rape on the victim are negatively-life-altering.  

RAPE

According to the Criminal Code Act in Section 357, “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 threats, intimidation of any kind or by fear of harm, or by means of false/ fraudulent representation as to the nature of the act, or in the case of a married woman, by impersonating her husband, is guilty of an offense called ‘Rape’

Under the Penal Code Act, Section 282 (1) provides that “A man is said to have committed rape who save in the case referred to in subsection (2) has sexual intercourse with a woman in any of the following circumstances;

  • Against her will
  • Without her consent
  • With her consent, when her consent has been obtained by putting her in fear of death or of hurt
  • With her consent when the man knows that he is not her husband and that her consent is given because she believes that he is another man to whom she is or believes herself to be lawfully married
  • With or without her consent when she is under fourteen years of age or of unsound mind.

Section 282 (2) provides that sexual intercourse by a man with his wife is not rape if she has attained puberty.

Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act 2015 talking on rape provides in Section 1 that the offense of Rape is committed when a person intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another with any part of his or her body or anything else without consent or with consent incorrectly obtained. Consent is incorrectly obtained when;

  • Done with force threats or intimidation
  • There is false or fraudulent representation as to the nature of the act
  • There is a use of substance capable of taking away the will of the person
  • By impersonating the spouse of a married woman in order to have sex with her

In section 2, the punishment for rape is life imprisonment. Unfortunately despite how beautiful the provisions of the VAPP Act are and the corrections, it makes to the definitions of rape given by the old laws, only 12 states in Nigeria have adopted and domesticated the Act. These 12 states are; Anambra, Benue, Cross Rivers, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Federal Capital Territory, Ogun, Osun, and Oyo.

Section 31 (1-3) of the VAPP Act provides that sexual intercourse between an adult and a child is unlawful, constitutes violence against the child, and makes the adult liable for the offense of rape. This is whether or not the adult has the consent of the child, or even where the adult was not aware that the person with whom he/she is having sexual intercourse is under the age of 18-years or falsely believes the person to be above the age of 18-years. The subsection provides for life imprisonment where a person is convicted of the crime.

Section 21 further provides that child betrothal or marriage is an offense and any person betrothing or giving a child out in marriage is guilty of an offense and liable to five years imprisonment upon conviction.

Some states yet to adopt the CRA 2003 include; Adamawa, Bauchi, Bayelsa, BornoEbonyi, Enugu, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina,  Kebbi, Niger, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara.

Note: This article is only for enlightenment and awareness.

Prosperity Omezuruike is a Volunteer Lawyer at Citizens’ Gavel Foundation for Social Justice, Oyo State, Nigeria. She can be reached at omezuruikeprosper@gmail.com

References

Criminal Code Act (L.N 112 of 1964. Cap C38)

Penal Code Act (Cap 53 LFN) 1960

Child’s Right Act 2003

Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act 2015

Human  Rights on Gender, Sex and the Law in Nigeria – YinkaOlomojobi

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