The year 2020 was a very trying one. From the COVID19 pandemic to the death of George Floyd, Kobe Bryant and Chadwick Boseman in the United States, the year carried some major sad news. One of such was, news reports of the horrific rape and murder of a 22 year old University of Benin (Uniben) student – Miss Vera Uwaila Omozuwa shocked many around Nigeria.
As it was popularly reported, on the 13th of May 2020, Miss Vera Uwaila; the 100 level student of the University of Benin was gang raped and clubbed to death in a church where she went to read. Uwa’s story stands out as a shocking example of the vile acts of gender based violence that continue in Nigeria and even the world.
The statistics and glory tales of rape show that the crime is more widespread and far reaching than what merely meets the eye.
[LEGALESE: you may choose to skip this ]
The Criminal Code – applies in the Southern States of Nigeria
Under the Criminal Code (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 impersonating her husband.” This offence is punishable by imprisonment for life, with or without caning.
The Penal Code – applies in the Northern States of Nigeria
Under the Penal Code (Section 282), “A man is said to commit rape who 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.”
The Criminal Law of Lagos – applies only in Lagos State
Under the Criminal Law 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”
The Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act (VAPP Act )
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”
What does the Law say about Rape in Nigeria? Basic information you should know.
Rape is non-consensual sex. That is, it is sex performed on a girl or woman without getting her consent. So, when a man forces his way to have sex with a woman without getting her consent, he has raped her. By law, if he gets the woman’s consent by force, threats, intimidation, deception, or even impersonation, he has also raped her. We talk more about consent later in this article.
Our definition above may seem one-sided. We understand. We are very aware that it is also possible for a woman to have sex with a man without his consent. In Nigeria, when such happens, the woman may be found guilty of raping the man (depending on where in the country the act occurs). We have deliberately used the word ‘may’ and we will explain why.
At the time of this writing, the laws in some states of Nigeria only contemplate a man raping a woman. The laws in these states by clear implication, consider it impossible that a woman would or could have sex with a man without his consent. Little wonder that in these states, the definition of the offense of rape makes no mention of or reference to a woman raping a man. A clear example can be seen from the definition of rape according to the criminal code. If you skipped the definition of rape from the laws (above), you may want to revisit it to get our point.
So in these states, it would be a ‘legal impossibility’ for a woman to be convicted for raping a man.
But in some other states, the law considers it possible for a woman to rape a man. These states (at the time of this writing) are Kaduna, Anambra, Oyo, Ogun, Lagos, Plateau, Cross River, Benue, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, and Osun States as well as the FCT, Abuja. The Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act (or Law) applies to these parts of the Country. It is this law that makes it possible for a woman to rape a man under Nigerian Law. This is because the definition of rape in this law is not as restrictive as the definition in the criminal code, the penal code, and the criminal law of Lagos State. We yet again would have to refer you to the definition of rape under the various laws to clearly show our point. So, in these parts of the country, a woman can actually be found guilty of raping a man because of the VAPP Act.
Interestingly too, the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, makes the offense of rape more encompassing. Therefore, rape under the VAPP Act is not just the non-consensual sex performed on a woman or girl by a man. It includes the non-consensual penetration of the anus or mouth of another person with any other part of a man or woman’s body or anything else. In effect, in the states where the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act applies (including the FCT, Abuja), the following is true;
- A man can be raped by a woman in the eyes of the law.
- The non-consensual penetration of the mouth or anus of another person by a man or woman also amounts to rape.
- The instrument of penetration does not have to be a penis. It could be any other part of the body or an object too.
What consent is not
Since rape is non-consensual sex, many rape cases usually revolve around the issue of whether or not the victim consented to sexual intercourse. It is noteworthy that when the consent of the victim is gotten through the use of force, threats, intimidation of any kind, or by instilling fear that the victim could get hurt if she does not ‘comply’, the law actually considers there was no consent at all.
Equally, consent obtained by a false or fraudulent representation of the nature of the act is not valid in the eyes of the law. In the case of a married woman, where the rapist impersonates her husband and deceives her into giving her consent, the law also considers that there was no consent at all.
Organizations that Help and Support Rape Victims in Nigeria
Recovering from the trauma of a rape incident can be difficult. Most times victims do not want to talk about it at all. At other times they keep the incident as a secret for the fear of how others will react or respond. It is always advisable that help is gotten either from an organization or even trusted spiritual leaders or family.
In response to how sensitive the issue of abuse can be, these organizations have been set up and offer help, assistance and support for rape victims. They can be reached through their web addresses and contact details below;
Stand to End Rape Organization (STER) – find out all you need to know about STER by visiting their website http://standtoendrape.org/
Lagos Address: 1B Godson Ilodianya Close,Off Ayo Babatunde Crescent, by Akiogun road, Oniru, Lekki, Lagos.
Email: [email protected]
Phone No: 08095967000
Abuja Address: Second Floor, FCT City Library, No. 2 Gwani Street, Opposite IGI House, Zone 4, Wuse, Abuja.
Email: [email protected], Phone No: 08130320270
Port-Harcourt: Phone No: 08130320270, 08188576948, Email: [email protected]
The Mirabel Center: This is a center set in 2013 to provide medical and psychosocial aid to survivors of rape and sexual assault in the country. The center is managed by Partnership for Justice with Tel: 08155770000, 07013491769, 08187243468, 01-2957816 www.pjnigeria.org [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]
The Center is located at Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) Ikeja, Lagos. Opening hours are; 9am – 5pm – Monday – Friday, 10am – 4pm Weekends & Public Holidays Tel: 07013491769, 01-2957816, 08176275732, 08176275695 and you can visit their website at https://mirabelcentre.org/ for further details
Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF) – https://warifng.org/
Further contact details for WARIF are
6, Turton Street Off Thorburn Avenue, Yaba, Lagos, Nigeria
Telephone contact (+234) 809 210 0008 and email address- [email protected]
Sexual Assault Referral Centers (SARCs)
A Sexual Assault Referral Centre provides the following services to victims of sexual assault:
- Confidentiality, privacy and a client-focused approach, where the victim is believed and not blamed
- Immediate, emergency medical treatment
- Forensic medical examination services by specially trained doctors and midwives (who prepare reports that are admissible as evidence where appropriate)
- Advice on sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and the risk of pregnancy
- Immediate and on-going counselling support from people experienced in the specialized field of counselling victims of sexual abuse
- Support in contacting the police, social welfare department or CSOs where appropriate and where the victim requests it
- Advice and on-going support throughout any police investigation and prosecution
Victims can ‘walk in’ to the SARC or can be referred by any number of agencies including the Police, Ministries of Gender / Women Affairs, Hospitals, CSO/NGOs, etc. All cases are treated with confidentiality and no victim is required to report their case to any other agency if they do not want to (if the victim is a minor, reporting to the appropriate authorities is mandatory). The SARCs provide services free of charge.
Agape Sexual Assault Referral Centre
Immanuel General Hospital, Eket, Akwa Ibom State
08023009220, 09077777433, 09090000648
FCT – Sexual and Gender Based Violence Response Team (FCT-SGBVRT) Walk in CLINIC
Social Development Secretariat (SDS) 2nd Floor Cyprian Ekwensi House, Arts & Culture Complex Area 10, Garki, Abuja, Federal Capital Territory, 08077111126
Jigawa Sexual Assault Referral Center
Dutse General Hospital, Jigawa State
JNissi Mission Help Initiative
Laderin Workers Estate, Laderin, Abeokuta, Ogun State
Ogun State Min of Health
Department of Public Health, Okemosan, Abeokuta, Ogun state
Kano Sexual Assault Referral Center
Waraka Centre, Murtala Mohammed Hospital, Kano
Mirabel Sexual Assault Referral Center
Lagos State University Teaching Hospital
Ikeja, Lagos State
08155770000, 08115554877, 08187243648 08176275732, 07013491769
Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR)
Edmund Crescent, Yaba, Lagos State
Rayuwa Sexual Assault Referral Center
Police Clinic, Minna, Niger State
08188107782, 07030735333, 08084944034
Salama Sexual Assault Referral Center
Gawna Awan Specialist, Kakari, Kaduna State
Adamawa Hope Centre
Yola Specialist Hospital, Yola, Adamawa State
Tamar Sexual Assault Referral Center (SARC)
FSP Medical Center, opposite former Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu, Enugu State
09091333000, 09092777000, 08060084441, 07032567458
Umaru Shehu Ultra Modern Hospital
Maiduguri, Borno State
Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF)
6 Turton Streeet off, Thorburn Avenue, off ozone Cinema, Yaba, Lagos State
Yobe Sexual Assault Referral Center
Damaturu, Yobe State
Salama Sexual Assault Referral Centre
Dr. Gwamna Awan General Hospital, Kakuri, Kaduna state.
We hope this article helped you find help for a rape victim or any other information about rape you needed. You may also want to see our list of organization that offer free legal services and assistance to Nigerians. If you liked this article then please subscribe to our youtube channel for videos relating to the law and you can also find us on facebook. We would also love to receive feedback or suggestions from you