By Mhiz Ella
Rape is when sexual intercourse is non-consensual (not agreed upon), or a person forces another person to have sex against his or her will. It can happen when the victim is intoxicated from alcohol or drugs. Rape includes intercourse in the vagina, anus, or mouth.
It is a felony offense, which means it is among the most serious crimes a person can commit., as well as women and children,dren can be raped.
Rape is any act of non-consensual sexual penetration. It doesn’t matter if the victim was raped by force or only under duress, the crime is still rape. An individual may be charged with the crime of rape or other specific types of rape such as statutory rape, date rape, gang rape, incestual rape, prison rape or marital rape. A person who rapes (a rapist), can be either a male or a female. A rape victim can also be a male or a female. Rape can include vaginal intercourse, anal intercourse, oral sex or penetration with any object or body part. Any degree of penetration is sufficient to constitute rape, ejaculation is not required. Moreover, in many jurisdictions each penetration is a new rape and could result in consecutive sentences.
Many rape incidents happen when there are drugs and alcohol involved. Whether a victim is heavily under the influence of drugs or alcohol can also have an effect on whether or not the victim consented to sexual penetration. Date rape drugs, drugs that are used by some individuals to sedate a victim in order to have sex with them, are odorless and tasteless, usually mixed with alcohol, and can render a person unable to prevent a sexual assault. Date rape drugs can also cause a person to fall unconscious. However, just because the individual did nothing to stop the sexual act does not mean that they consented to it. Further, sexual penetration with someone who is unconscious or asleep is virtually always deemed a rape, as there is no way for the individual to give their consent to the act.
Rape is considered a violent crime and carries heavy sentences, even for a first offense. Depending on the circumstances, rape may be punishable by several years up to a life sentence. The death penalty is no longer given in cases of rape, but life sentences are not infrequently given. Aggravating circumstances increase the penalties for rape significantly. For example, where the victim is elderly or very young, where serious injury either physical or emotional was caused to the victim, and where excessive amounts of violence were used in the commission of the rape or great bodily injury was caused. Where a rape was planned in advance or repeated acts of rape occured, or where a rapist has prior convictions for rape, sentences will be longer. Other aggravating circumstances include subjecting the victim to sexual perversion in addition to the rape.
Criteria:- What counts in a rape case
What is Consent?
Consent, or lack thereof, is one of the main elements of the crime of rape. Statutory rape is committed even when a minor under the age of consent willingly engages in a sexual act with the adult, because the minor is unable to legally consent. An intellectually disabled person is also legally incapable of consenting to sex. In the context of other types of rape, whether or not there was consent to sexual penetration will be derived by the facts particular to each case.
Consent is the most common defense to rape charges. Both the actions and the statements of the victim will be assessed for consent. However, it is important to know that a victim does not necessarily consent to sexual penetration just because he or she did nothing to stop it. Even if an individual at first consents to the sexual act, he or she may withdraw consent at any time. Further, there must be consent to every sexual act – just because an individual consented in the past, doesn’t mean he or she cannot withdraw this consent to future acts. Finally, it is important to remember that the defense of consent is unavailable in situations in which the rape victim is unable to consent legally
, as in a statutory rape.
What is force?
Force doesn’t always refer to physical pressure. Perpetrators may use emotional coercion, psychological force, or manipulation to coerce a victim into non-consensual sex. Some perpetrators will use threats to force a victim to comply, such as threatening to hurt the victim or their family or other intimidation tactics.
Causes and Remedies of Rape
(I) Causes of Rape
The important question which arises when we talk of rapes is what causes rape. Why rape cases are increasing at an alarming rate? First and the foremost cause of increasing rape cases is the lack of public safety. Women are not safe outside their homes and why only outside they are not safe even inside their homes.
A number of cases have been reported wherein the guilty has committed the crime in the very house of the victim. Rapes are being done in moving vehicles also which raise a question on the effectiveness of the traffic system of our country. Another important reason is the dearth of police officials and female police officers in particular.
Studies show that rape victims are more likely to report sex crimes if female police officers are available. Lack of female police further aggravates the problem.
Another very important reason is a sluggish court system of Nigeria and few convictions. India’s
Studies show that rape victims are more likely to report sex crimes if female police officers are available. Lack of female police further aggravates the problem.
Another very important reason is a sluggish court system of India and few convictions. Nigerian’s court system is painfully slow and for rapes that do get reported, the conviction rate is not more than 26%.
As the accused is not convicted, others think that they can go around freely and rape whosoever they like. Stigmatizing the victim and encouraging the victim to compromise gives a further impetus to this horrendous crime.
In many rural areas, the victim is pressurized to drop charges against the guilty. Not only this, they are encouraged to marry their rapist by telling them that nobody will marry them now and it will bring shame to her family.
In recent times, prominent leaders and experts have blamed women’s clothing as responsible for increasing rape cases which is totally wrong. No clothing is an invitation to rape.
The dire need of today is to curb this violent crime. The most important step to be taken in this direction is the strengthening of laws dealing with sexual assaults.
Death penalty should be imposed on a rape accused.
A woman’s squad should be formed in every district which would exclusively deal with problems of women.
Fast track courts must be established so that justice is given as early as possible.
Some NGO should start Rape Crisis Centre where victim can approach by calling a toll-free number or physically visiting the local centres. Such centre should play a vital role in supporting rape victims to cope up with the psychological trauma and also guide them to obtain legal remedy.
Why Rape often goes Unreported
Being sexually assaulted in one of the most shame-inducing traumas that a person can experience. So it is understandable that victims don’t need to be further shamed for not reporting the crime. And yet, that is exactly what happens whenever we hear, for the first time, about a sexual assault that occurred months or years ago. “Why didn’t she report it before?” “Why didn’t she come forward a long time ago, right after it happened?”article continues after advertisement
Sixty-three percent of sexual assaults are not reported. Why is this the case? This article is intended to answer that question. I hope this article will be as helpful in addressing sexual assault.
Not every victim reacts the same way or has the same reasons for not reporting, but based research, I believe there are 10 major reasons for non-reporting:
1. Victims are too ashamed to come forward. Shame is at the core of the intense emotional wounding women (and men) experience when they are sexually violated. Sexual assaul
t is, by its very nature, humiliating and dehumanizing. The victim feels invaded and defiled while simultaneously experiencing the indignity of being helpless and at the mercy of another person.
2. Victims of sexual assault blame themselves. Most victims of sexual assault blame themselves in some way. This is true whether the victim is male or female, young or old.
3. Victims are afraid of being blamed. This makes sense since we have a victim-blaming culture in which we make the assumption that if something bad happens to you, it is somehow your own fault. This is particularly true for the way we blame women. “She shouldn’t have gone to that party,” “What does she expect if she wears a dress that short. She’s just asking for it.” “It’s her own fault for drinking so much.”
Blaming the victim is by far the most common reaction people have when a victim tells others that she was sexually assaulted and is, by far, the most damaging. The idea is that the victim “put herself in that position” or was “asking for it.” Not only does the victim not receive the comfort and support she needs, but she is further shamed by being blamed for her own victimization.
4. Victims are afraid they will not be believed.Sexual misconduct is the most under-reported crime because victims’ accounts are often scrutinized to the point of exhaustion and there is a long history of women not being believed when they attempted to report a sexual violation. Although friends and family usually believe a woman when she tells them she was sexually assaulted, when it comes to reporting the crime, it is another story. Most women have heard horror stories about how other victims have had to jump through hoops in order to be believed and often the perpetrator’s word is taken over hers, especially when the rape has occurred on a college campus or when the perpetrator is a popular, rich or has connections.
5. They are afraid of retaliation by the perpetrator. Eight out of ten victims know their rapist and because of this, many are afraid that if they report it to the authorities their perpetrator will retaliate in some way. In addition, rapists who are strangers often threaten to kill their victim if she reports the sexual assault. There have been only a few well-known cases of a rapist returning to harm a former victim, but enough to scare women with this possibility.
6. They are afraid of having their reputation ruined.Male and female victims are afraid of the stigma connected to sexual assault. They are afraid of it getting out and hurting their reputation. This is especially true of adolescents, who focus on their reputation obsessively. And there is good reason for them to be concerned. I’ve had many adolescent clients whose named were smeared after the news that they were sexually assaulted came out at school. Girls often called “whores” and “sluts” and received many rude and threatening comments and gestures from the boys at school. Males who are sexually assaulted have even more fear of their reputation being ruined and many are labeled “queer” or are considered “weak” if the news gets out.
7. They don’t believe it will do any good. Most victims know that very few rapists are caught and even fewer are convicted and serve any jail time. In fact, ninety-nine percent of perpetrators walk free. With these odds, it is understandable that victims would have serious doubts about reporting and that they would question whether it is worth having their integrity and their character questioned. Those with a history of childhood sexual abuse who never received justice are particularly prone to feeling it will do no good to report a current sexual violation.
8. They want to put it behind them—to forget it ever happened. I often hear clients tell me that this is why they didn’t report the sexual assault. “I just wanted to move on,” they will say. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work. Former victims can’t just put it out of their minds. The pain and fear and shame surrounding sexual trauma continue to haunt them. They suffer from troubling flashbacks, nightmares-and
difficulty sleeping, depression, anxiety, and have difficulties with issues such as trust and low self-esteem. Their sexuality suffers, either causing them to have difficulty engaging in the sexual act or the other extreme, to become promiscuous. Many repeat the trauma by continuing to be victimized or by becoming abusive themselves.
9. They don’t want to go through the “hassle” of reporting it to the authorities. This is an interesting excuse when you compare sexual assault to what happens when someone gets their car stolen or their house broken into. We seldom, if ever, hear people say, “I didn’t want to go through the trouble of reporting the robbery to the police,” in these circumstances. Most people don’t get their car or other valuables back when they are stolen but this does not stop them from reporting the theft to the police. The truth is, this excuse probably reflects the victim’s lack of self-esteem.
10. They are too traumatized to report the assault.This is more common than you would imagine and brings up some issues that not everyone is aware of. For example, most people are familiar with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), a severe anxiety disorder with characteristic symptoms that develop after the experience of an extremely traumatic stressor, such as a violent assault.
Many understand that those who suffer from PTSD often relive the experience through nightmares and flashbacks, have difficulty sleeping, and feel detached and estranged, and these symptoms can be severe enough and last long enough to significantly impair the person’s daily life. What many don’t realize, however, is that PTSD is marked by clear biological changes as well as psychological symptoms and is complicated by the fact that it frequently occurs in conjunction with related disorders such as depression, substance abuse, and problems of memory and cognition.
Is rape a crime in Nigeria?
Yes. Rape is a serious crime in Nigeria. It is a criminal offence and if found guilty, carries a life sentence.
Laws that govern rape in Nigeria;
The Criminal Code – applicable in all the Southern States
The Penal Code – applicable in all the Northern States
The Criminal Laws of Lagos – applicable only in Lagos State
The Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPP Act)– this is a federal law that has only been domesticated in Lagos, Anambra, Ebonyi and Oyo State.
Under the Criminal Code of Nigeria (Section 357 & 358), Rape is defined as “having 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 or intimidation of any kind, or by fear of harm, or by means of false act, or, in case of a married woman, be personating her husband.” This offence is punishable by imprisonment for life, with or without caning.
Under the Penal Code of Nigeria (Section 282), “A man is said to commit rape when he 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.”
Under the Criminal Laws of Lagos State (Section 258) “Any man who has unlawful sexual intercourse with a woman or girl without her consent, is guilty of the offence of rape”
Under the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (Section 1) “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/her body or anything else without consent, or the consent is obtained by force”
Rape and sexual assault are serious crimes against the dignity and sexual rights of an individual. Everyone has the right and free will to make informed decisions about their sexual conduct and also to respect these same rights and dignity of others. From the legislations outlined, consent is a predominant factor when it comes to offences of rape and sexual assault.
The VAPP Act is also a little more expansive in its interpretation, as it makes provisions for both male and female sexual offenders. It als
o takes into consideration in another section the rape of a person by a group of people (commonly referred to as ‘gang rape’) which is the first of its kind in Nigerian laws.
The prosecution and conviction of sexual offenders, in spite of the prevalence of rape and sexual violence in our society, and the laws that exist to govern rape are extremely low. It is also very difficult to find established data readily available from reliable sources. Unconfirmed reports of 18 reported convictions in Nigeria till date was seen in one publication.
Certain prevailing attitudes exist in Nigeria that encourages survivors to hide in guilt and shame and perpetrators to continue with impunity may be a contributory factor in the under reporting and low conviction rates.
In order for us to see an increase in the rate of prosecution and convictions of sexual offenders there needs to be an increase in advocacy and awareness. Our society operating on a patriarchal system and steeped in traditional norms and practices that encourage this abuse, needs to change; so we present an enabling environment for survivors to feel safe to speak their truth and report this crime, without fear of ‘victim blaming’ from community members and reprisals from the perpetrators or family members. Survivors also need to be aware of their rights as citizens and feel secure in the knowledge that justice will prevail and that the perpetrator will be punished for this crime.
It is important to always remember that rape can happen to anyone but it is never the fault of the survivor, under any circumstances; it is ALWAYS the fault of the rapist. Rape is a deliberate and conscious decision.
UN Against Sexual Violence and Rape Issues
UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict (UN Action) unites the work of the UN system with the goal of ending sexual violence in conflict. The network is composed of 15 UN entities and its Chair is the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict. The network represents a concerted effort by the UN to work as one by amplifying advocacy, improving coordination and accountability, and supporting country efforts to prevent conflict-related sexual violence and respond effectively to the needs of survivors. UN Action synergizes efforts from humanitarian, human rights, development, political and peacekeeping actors within the network to address conflict-related sexual violence.
The UN Action Secretariat is based in the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict. Current member entities include United Nations Department of Peacebuilding and Political Affairs (DPPA), United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Department of Peace Operations (DPO), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), World Health Organization (WHO), Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The core accomplishments of UN Action lie in its capacity to catalyze action through innovative advocacy and policy coordination of a wide range of entities towards addressing conflict-related sexual violence, while incorporating several different mandates.