How to tackle growing pandemic of rape

July 8, 2020


THE individual complaint mechanism is designed so that an individual woman, or a group of women, who feel that her/their rights have been abused can submit the details of the discrimination to a committee of experts which will review the case.

  1. We are aware of the cultural and religious reservations prevalent in Nigeria; however, there is a need to do away with retrogressive cultures which has resulted in a patriarchal society. As Nigeria needs to move away from cultures that are adverse to women. Men need to treat women with regard and not see them as a weapon for sex.
  2. Special courts which will handle cases of rape and defilement should be set up to protect victims from victimization and delay in obtaining justice. As regards punishment, rape should be a non-bailable crime. Severity of punishment for rape, with particular reference to statutory variety, should rank next to capital punishment. It is not enough to make the punishment severe, the laws should be enforced. The police authorities should courageously investigate and recommend for prosecution the alleged offenders. The judiciary should not shy away from handing out maximum punishment, when the occasion demands, to sex offenders. This will serve as a deterrent to other members of the public
  3. The legislature should ensure that anyone found to have abetted the commission of rape or is an accomplice of a sex offender should be made guilty of the act itself. Same gesture should be extended to anyone that procures the rape of another. A special committee has to be set up urgently in the National Assembly to oversee and document these cases and assist the victims to seek for redress.
  4. Medical evidence must be encouraged once a victim reports at a hospital or police station. Forensic examination resources and personnel such as rape kits, voice analysis, facial recognition systems, and handwriting analysis and fingerprints impression should be made readily available and immediate response be given to individual cases.

Traces of DNA from blood, hair, skin,vagina epithelial cells, saliva, semen, teeth bite can be quickly obtained to aid corroborative evidence. This can be useful in Corroborating evidence in cases of sexual assault through medical evidence. The legal requirement of eye witness evidence to corroborate rape cases and the lack of human and material resources to medically investigate and reach conclusive findings in a rape case leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

  1. Life imprisonment should be the least punishment for convicted persons with an option of castration. Death penalty for repeat sexual offenders that defile and rape minors. Like I said earlier, sexual violence is a national emergency and proactive laws with harsh punishment need to be put in place to ensure this menace is brought to a minimal state. More inclusive and all-encompassing definition of rape should be included in our criminal and penal code and serve as parameters to determine acts which can be classified as rape. In the face of Nigerian Criminal Code, only unmarried women can be raped under the law. This is wrong as men hide under marriage to rape women and young girls.

Section 282 of the Northern Nigeria Penal Code and Section 357 of the Criminal Code also exempts perpetrators of rape within marriage from punishment. Also the Criminal code states that rape is only on women, any person can be raped.

The Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act (VAPPA) seems like a very progressive piece of legislation. Unfortunately, the law is only applicable in the FCT, Abuja. It does not apply in the other States of the Federation. This also should be looked into.

  1. Local rape crisis centres in communities 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. Anyone can report a rape case, especially in cases where victims are incapacitated or unable to report.

Barr Chioma Ebubedike Igbokwe writes from  Mary & Jane Stephen & Associates, Abuja

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9.Enlightenment campaign to discourage sex offences, letting people especially kids understand when they are being sexually assaulted. Schools should start teaching children how to speak up against unusual friendly behaviors of people they are in care of they should scream to call for help against sex offenders. Myths such as having sex with a child or virgin to cure diseases should be made known to people as false. Victim blaming for being the reason why they were raped should be jettisoned. Such ideas as dressing provocatively or flirtatious acts as reasons why victims were raped should be frowned upon. Victim should not be blamed for an offender’s crime.

  1. Parents should ensure Underage children are not left unsupervised or with friends, relatives and guardians that are not trusted. As a matter of fact, parents should strive to actively monitor their children and ensure they are kept under close watch. Parents and schools should start teaching children how to speak out against anyone that makes them feel uncomfortable or touches them. 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. Anyone can report a rape case especially in cases where victims are incapacitated or unable to report.

11.The Legislature and law enforcement agencies should ensure that anyone found to have abetted the commission of rape or is an accomplice of a sex offender should be made guilty of the act itself. Same gesture should be extended to anyone that procures the rape of another.Ignorance of the age of the girls as regards consent should no longer be a ground for defense of rape

Article by Barr Chioma Mary Ebubedike Igbokwe

Mary & Jane Stephen & Associates


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