By Okangla Stephen Peter
The act of rape is by nature inhumane, immoral, unlawful and a holistic disregard to our religious and cultural ethics and injunctions. It is heartbreaking and worrisome that this unfortunate and monstrous attitude still lives among us at this time of age.
The issue of rape in our society is endemic, while the occurrences remain in the spotlight. The prosecution has been overshadowed by lack of attention, inability of victims to raise their voices, inadequacy of our laws and stigmatization of victims of rape. There is the need to bring the issue of rape to front burner and to help raise the voices of victims and survivors towards urgent action under our protective laws. In Nigeria it is worst, our Newspapers, Television stations, Radio stations and Social media are today clouded with reports of sexual assault, molestation, harassment and rape. It is more damning that some Clergy men, Teachers, Lecturers, Celebrities and Government Functionaries are guilty of this heinous crime. Although, rape is not peculiar to Nigerian society alone, but the degree of its occurrence is highly alarming.
However, it is the opinion of the writer that the occurrence of rape in Nigeria can be minimize hence this Article aims at appraising and elaborating ways we can salvage Nigeria and Nigerians of the beast called Rape. It also aims at taking a legal voyage to enlighten his audience on what rape entails from available Laws in Nigeria and to further proffer possible solution aimed at mitigating the trend of rape in Nigeria.
WHAT IS RAPE?
This question is apt, concise and relevant at this point, it is a step towards swimming out of the ocean of immorality and guilt. Several scholars had at different times brought to light what rape is all about. Similarly, several laws have proffered definitions to the term rape in an unambiguous manner. The act of rape as earlier stated is by nature unlawful because it involves an aggressive carnal knowledge of a female without her consent. Consent in this context must be devoid of any form of external influence. Rape is defined in several Acts and Laws as passed by the National Assembly and the State Houses of Assembly in Nigeria. Among these laws are: The Penal Code, Criminal Code, the Child Rights Act and the Violence Against Person Prohibition Act (VAPPA) etc.
Several definitions given to rape are all characterized by an absence of consent as a common feature. A number of such definitions include those arrived at by the Supreme court, in the case of NDEWENU POSU V THE STATE (2011) 3 NWLR (PT.1234) 393 at Page 414, wherein Justice Fabiyi (JSC) defined rape as “an unlawful sexual intercourse with a female without her consent. It is an unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman by a man forcibly and against her will. It is the act of sexual intercourse by a man with a woman who is not his wife without her consent”.
Similar position was upheld by Per Adekeye (JSC) in the NDEWENU’S case (Supra).
In a more comprehensive manner, Section 1 (1) of the Violence Against Person Prohibition Act (VAPPA), 2015 defined rape as:
A person commits the offence of rape if
He or she intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person with any other part of his or her body or anything else
The other person does not consent to the penetration
The consent is obtained by force or means of threat or intimidation of any kind or by fear or harm or by means of false and fraudulent representation as to the nature of the act or the use of any substance or addiction capable of taking away the will of such person in the case of a married person by impersonating his or her spouse.
From the definitions proffered above, it is lucid that rape is inhuman, unethical, unlawful and immoral hence prosecution of rape should be handled meticulously and devoid of delay in whatever guise.
WHAT SHOULD BE DONE TO AVERT THE RESURGENCE OF RAPE IN NIGERIA
At this point, let me assert that “nothing on earth justifies rape”. It is an act of Beast and should not be seen done among civilized humans. The fact remains that our Laws are sufficient to put an end to sexual offences in Nigeria. However, it is a hard facts to say that our laws on rape are dormant hence the resurgence of Rape. But the following could serve as mitigating factors and panacea to sexual offences.
Proper Investigation of Rape Cases: the prosecution team should be thorough and true in their investigation and prosecution, to see to bringing the accused to book. This will help in no little way in mitigating the case of rape in Nigeria.
Timely Prosecution of Rape Cases: indeed the prosecution team have a lot of work to do. In fact the fate of victims lie in their hands. Investigation and procurement of evidence should be timorously done, to achieve this, Government should establish a special court for the trial of sexual related offences across the country. This will greatly reduce sexual offences in Nigeria.
Meticulous Investigation and Prosecution of Sexual Offences: investigation of sexual offences should be handled by experts who are meticulous at engaging their job. They should be avail all necessary materials and resources that will enable the logical conclusion of rape cases and the culprit punish in accordance.
In addition to the factors above, names and photographs of convicts should be publish in National Newspapers as means of shaming perpetrators and a form of deterring others.
Cases of rape should not be covered no matter the status of person involve. It should be expose at all times and victims should learn to always speak out, government should be genuinely committed to the prosecution and punishment of perpetrators. This is the only means and manner we can salvage and purge of society of this heinous crime.
Okangla Stephen Peter writes from The University of Maiduguri Borno State, Nigeria. He is an unassuming Law Student with great penchant for Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Oil and Gas, International Law, Corporate Practice, Human Rights Advocacy and Lecturing.
He can be reach via
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