Laws on Rape: What Every Nigerian Should Know

WHAT IS RAPE?

In a nutshell, rape is non-consensual sexual intercourse. When a man has sex with a woman without her consent (in Nigeria – apart from in the FCT Abuja, only women are capable of being raped). Sexual assault is similar to rape, but is not rape. Sexual assault is any form of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. In this article, we will focus on 4 specific laws that deal with rape:

  1. The Criminal Code – this is applicable in all the Southern States
  2. The Penal Code – this is applicable in all the Northern States
  3. The Criminal Laws of Lagos – this is applicable only in Lagos State
  4. The Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act – this is applicable in only the FCT Abuja.
  5. The Child Rights Act – this is only applicable in the States which have domesticated it

 

  1. Criminal Code (CC): Under the CC, rape is when any person has sexual intercourse with a woman or girl, without her consent, or incorrectly obtained consent. Consent can be incorrectly obtained where it is obtained:
  • by force/threat/intimidation
  • by means of false and fraudulent representation as to the nature of the act,
  • by a person impersonating a married woman’s husband in order to have sex

Under the CC, sexual intercourse with under aged girls or people with unsound mind is the offence of defilement, and so technically a person could be charged for rape and defilement.

 

  1. Penal Code (PC): Under the PC, rape is when a man has sexual intercourse with a woman against her willwithout her consent, or with incorrectly obtained consent. Consent can be incorrectly obtained where it is obtained:
  • by putting her in fear of death or hurt
  • by a person impersonating a married woman’s husband in order to have sex

Further under the PC, sex with a girl under 14 years of age or who is of unsound mind is rape, irrespective of whether there is consent. Also the PC, explicitly states that sexual intercourse by a man with his wife is not rape.

 

  1. Criminal Laws of Lagos (CLL): Under the CLL, rape is when a man has sexual intercourse with a woman or girl without her consent, or with incorrectly obtained consent. Consent can be incorrectly obtained where it is obtained:
  • by force, impersonation threat or intimidation of any kind
  • by means of false and fraudulent representation as to the nature of the act,

As with the PC, the CLL explicitly states that sexual intercourse by a man with his wife cannot be unlawful, and therefore a man cannot rape his wife.

It is important to note here that in all 3 laws; rape can only occur when the vagina of the woman is penetrated. However, this does not mean that anal unlawful sexual intercourse is allowed. This is a crime, and is covered under different descriptions in each legislation. The penalty for rape across all the laws is life imprisonment (however this is not a mandatory sentence in all of them).

 

  1. Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPPA): The VAPPA defines rape as when a person intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person with any other part of his/her body or anything else without consent, or with incorrectly obtained consent. Consent can be incorrectly obtained where it is obtained:
  • by force/threats/intimidation
  • by means of false and fraudulent representation as to the nature of the act,
  • by the use of substances capable of taking away the will of that person
  • by a person impersonating a married woman’s husband in order to have sex

As you can see, the VAPPA seems like a very progressive piece of legislation. Unfortunately, the law is only applicable in the FCT, Abuja. It does not apply in of the other States of the Federation.

 

5. Child Rights Act (CRA): The CRA provides that sex with a child is rape, and anyone who has sexual intercourse with a child is liable to imprisonment for life upon conviction.

11

Oct