Rape is defined in most jurisdictions as sexual intercourse, or other forms of sexual penetration, committed by a penetrator against victims without their consent. Simply put, rape as generally known to all, means an act of a man having forceful sexual intercourse with a woman or girl.
Section 357 of the criminal code applicable to the southern part of Nigeria, 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 a married woman, by personating her husband, is guilty of an offense which is called rape”.
It follows in section 358 of the same act that the punishment for the offense of rape is imprisonment for life.
While section 282 of the penal code applicable to the northern part of Nigeria defines rape as;
“(1) A man is said to commit rape who… has sexual intercourse with a woman in any of the following circumstances;- (a) against her will; (b) without her consent; (c) with her consent, when her consent has been obtained by putting her in fear of death, or of hurt; (d) with her consent, when the man, when the man knows that he is not her husband and that her consent is giving because she believes that he is the man to whom she is or believes herself to be lawfully married; (e) with or without her consent when she is under fourteen years of age or of unsound mind”
It is furious, bedeviling, emotionally destructive to have carnal knowledge of the female gender against her consent. The act lasts a couple of minutes but leaves a scar that takes years to heal, or probably, would never. As sex gives orgasm, rape causes enormous pain to the victim emotionally, psychologically and in many ways wise.
In recent times, the incidences of this type of assault have increased at an alarming rate in Africa, mostly Nigeria leading to the death of so many women as they couldn’t face the world but would rather take away their lives (suicide).
In our country today, rape occurs every day, everywhere. In homes, streets, schools, public places, event centers, urban & rural areas, towns & cities & villages. The country is so hard that it is inevitable, the necessity of parents setting their children out to hawk, as it is, the only way through which a large number of Nigerian homes survive daily. Any Nigerian girl hawking in the street is on the verge possibility of being raped.
According to UNICEF data, 1 in 4 Nigerian girls are sexually assaulted before the age of 18. And despite the increase in activism justice is rare.
Nigeria, a country of 206 million populace, had just 32 rape convictions between 2019 & 2020, according to data from Nigeria’s national anti-trafficking agency. Considering the number of outcries on alleged cases of sexual assault, one could easily juxtapose that 32 convictions is a very low ratio.
It is little or no policy or law that helps protect the victims as they’re most times blamed, stigmatized and humiliated by the public if it brought to the public domain, especially these days social media platforms…… 9 in 10 do not believe the victims and do take their claims as false accusations. These, and many more, hinders the victims from embracing the mindset of reporting such an inhumane, demonic crime to the appropriate authority.
Many Nigerian girls who had accused men of rape have faced backlash, high-profile defamation lawsuits, and even retaliatory police investigations. And this, thus, poses threat like a sickle on the neck, or a double-barreled rifle pointed at the head of rape victims, which scares them from seeking justice. They feel or rather thought, their lack of either political, economic power and charismatic authority and they’re coming from not wealthy families would make the case to backfire. They accept fate and wouldn’t seek justice……… “This is why Nigeria is losing its fight to prosecute rape”.
Instances Of Rape Cases In Nigeria
In May 2020, somewhere around Narayi in the Southern Kaduna, one Miss Jennifer, an 18-year-old girl was gang-raped by a group of five boys said to be her friends after giving her a drink containing an alcoholic substance which caused her sleep and unconsciousness while they rape her and which left her in a dilapidated mental state.
June 6th, 2020, a twelve-year-old girl in her residence at Ajah, Lagos State, was raped by four men who masked their faces.
May 27th, 2020, a 2022-year-old Microbiology student of Uniben, Miss Uwavera Omozuma, while reading in a church close to her house, was raped after which she was hit by a fire extinguisher which leads to her death.
On June 3rd 2020, one Miss Barakat Bello, a 19-year-old student of Institute of Agriculture, Research and Training (IART) Ibadan, was attacked in her parents’ house at Akinyele, raped, and stabbed to death.
Same June 2020, somewhere in Nigeria, a 26-year lady was assaulted by a government appointee, for making a post on social media which to him was a scandal. Many human rights organizations demonstrated and complaints were made, yet till today, the case hasn’t been assigned to a judge.
On 23rd June 2020, a man raped a three-month-old baby in Nassarawa State leaving the child in a disfigured state.
These are just a few of the numerous rape cases in Nigeria.
Rape is an infringement on women’s rights, privacy, self-preservation and dignity.
Showcasing how devilish the crime is, in the case of Shaibu Isa vs State, (2016) 6 NWLR (pt.1508) 243, His Lordship I.T. Muhammad by the way of obiter referred to a rapist as ;
“A rapist is worse than an animal. He has no moral rectitude. He throws overboard, the limits of his legal rights and he can, shamelessly, deprive another person (more painfully female children of underage) of their God-giving rights of protecting the chastity and Sanctity of their body and mind. He is all out to pollute such chastity and sanctity. He (rapist) has no respect for human beings! He can commit any atrocity. He is cancer to society. What a shame!”
- Castration; Any accused rapist whom the court has found guilty, his testicles should be removed. This will make him cease having sexual urges which could arouse him to commit the crime sometime again.
- Closed Trial; Rape cases in Nigeria are in open court. With the fear that people will be staring at the victim, the shame and sometimes stigmatization, the doubts that the accusations might be false, a victim may lack the courage to report the authorized bodies.
- Special Court for the trial of rape cases; It is a recommendation of this writer, the establishment of special court to review and try rape cases. This is to ensure the protection of the victim’s dignity.
Adams Mustapha Itopa
Faculty Of Law,
Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
Tel : 09033775773
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org