ABSTRACT

Rape cases are sadly prevalent in Nigeria and this is condemnable as it occasions unquantifiable anguish on the victims. The rape victims endure physical violence, most times are not at home with social life after rape and sometimes get infected with sexually transmitted diseases and the unwanted pregnancy that follows it most times. Rape is a degrading, humiliating and painful experience which no victim enjoys. Most times, some rape victims go through years of trauma, nightmares and suicidal feelings.

Several calls have been made for the amendment of the law on rape to include rape of the male gender and also rape of victims with objects as far as penetration can be proved. These several calls have culminated to the enactment of the Violence against Persons Act 2015 which is a milestone development in the subject matter of rape in Nigeria. This paper seeks to analyze the Nigeria law on rape, its effectiveness and the recent development on the rape of male victims and the way forward for Nigeria. In the case of Popoola vs. State (2013)17 NWLR (Pt 1382)p.100 per MuntakaCoomasie JSC @ Pg 120 para GH on rape said:          

“the offence appeared to be heinous and heartless. The sentence meted out by the trial court amounts to abdicating its role as a judicial officer. I condemned such type of sentence. The sentence is unnecessarily lenient and loose”

INTRODUCTION

 Section 357 of Criminal Code defined rape 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 the case of a married woman, by personating her husband.  It is settled law that for the prosecution to sustain a conviction against the Appellant under section 283 of the Penal Code, the following ingredients must be established by evidence:

 (i) That the accused had sexual intercourse with the woman in question;

(ii) That the act was done in circumstances envisaged in any of the five paragraphs of section 282 (1) of the Penal Code;

(iii)  That the woman was not the wife of the accused; or if she was the wife, she had not attained puberty;

(iv) That there was penetration.

 A man is said to commit rape when he has sexual intercourse with a woman in any of the following circumstances: –

(a)   Against her will,

(b)   Without her consent,

(c)    With her consent, when her consent has been obtained by putting her in fear of death or hurt,

(d)   With her consent, when the man knows that he is not her husband and that her consent is given because she believes that he is another man to whom she is or believes herself to be lawfully married,

(e)   With or without her consent when she is under fourteen years of age or of unsound mind.

The above position was given judicial backing in the following cases; Ibo v.Zaria N.A (1962) NNCN 30, Upahar v. State (2003) 6 NWLR Pt.816 p.230, Okoyomon v. State (1973) NMLR 292 amongst others.

Thus the definition of rape as envisaged under our laws is done against the female persons and not the male counterparts as they are largely considered to be the perpetrator of such crime. However, in relation to Male rape, Nigerians are becoming increasingly aware of its existence, however, experts believe that the current male rape statistics vastly under-represent the actual number of victims who are raped each day. Rape crises counselors have estimated that, while only ten in 50 raped women report to the police, the rate of underreporting among the men are even higher. To many Nigerians, male rape seems impossible and unrealistic or rather ridiculous but incidences of male rape are as prevalent in society as those of female rape.

In April 2016, a man whose name was given as S. Ude, 35, from Amuzu community, Amasiri, Afikpo North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, was reportedly arrested for raping a 10-year-old boy, V. Agha. Ude lured the later to join him to farm, where he carried out the act. Police spokesman, ASP George Okafor in the area, confirmed the incident to newsmen. According to the Police, the suspect had been arrested, after Agha’s testimony to the father that Ude raped him through the anus[1].

Also, in February 23, 2016, the Lagos State Police Command announced that they have arrested a 34-year-old trader, Mallam Isiaka, for supposedly raping a nine-year-old boy named Emmanuel in the Iju part of the state. He was a primary 1 pupil, living with the parents on Coker Alhaja Street, Old Akute Road, Iju. Christopher allegedly said that he was raped through the anus by a man popularly called Mallam, a roadside trader adjacent to where the boy was living. Mr. O. Aluko, a Nigerian journalist, informed, “The boy said Mallam had been raping him in his shop anytime he ran errands for his parents and warned him that if he opened up to his mother, he was going to die.”[2].

There was a similar incident in Benin City, Edo State in the first quarter of the year. This time, the rape did not involve just one person. Over 10 boys were seemingly kidnapped by a gay couple[3]. Similarly, in July 2012, a man whose name was given as U. Onoja was reported to have been raped by six women in a village called Ugbugbu Owukpa in the Ogbadibo Local Government Area of Benue.

These are few of the numerous cases of male rape that have been reported while others have not been reported due to the stigma or attitude of the country to the involving trend of such.
Many Nigerians have cried out that it is unheard of men raping their fellow men, let alone, women raping men however, this is a reality that has confronted the country.

Another example is the notorious case of Mormon Sex In Chainscandal as far back as 1977, where a lady was convicted for chaining a man who was a German missionary and forcing him to have sexual intercourse with her. The case has since been turned to a movie to raise awareness of the fact that rape does not only relate to females but also to males.

This article seeks to introduce the incidence of male rape in Nigeria having in mind of our laws and the required reformations in it so as to protect the male victims of rape and other forms of sexual abuse.

NIGERIAN LAW DISCRIMINATION ON MALE RAPE VICTIMS AND THE EFFECT ON THEM: THE LEGAL REQUIREMENTS.

The definitions of rape under our various laws which relates only to female rape and abuse have received more attention than that of male rape which is not considered under our various laws.

 Male rape cases have not graced the headlines they are supposed to in the media and courts due to the fact that the male victims hardly discuss their ordeal in the hands of their male or female rapists. This is largely due to religious and socio-cultural backgrounds that see such act as a taboo.

Incidences of male rape and sexual abuse are as prevalent in society as those of the female rape. Researchers have discovered that the male child victim is more likely to be at a disadvantage compared to his female counterpart, in terms of having redress of the problem. This disadvantage is directly linked to the acclaimed view that the male sexes are more sexually active than the female and also, the fact that male victims are reluctant to have their matter reported. There are many other reasons while male victims do not come forward to report being raped, but perhaps the biggest reason for many male victims is the fear of being perceived as homosexual. Men are likely to find it difficult to admit having been raped because of a number of cultures around the world encourage male dominance.

We have erroneously believed rape to be predominantly females, it has been discovered that males too suffer at the hands of these abusers who may be males or females. The erroneous notion that victims of rape are mostly females ought not to be and should be corrected.

Asides the issue of non-reporting of rape cases by the male victims, the legislation we have in Nigeria seems to be discriminatory against male counterparts and tends to be more favorable towards the female counterpart. Going by the laws protecting rape and other sexual abuses, majority of the sections were worded explicitly to protect the female.

These sections of the Nigeria laws which provided for the offence of rape seems to me to be a discriminatory section against males, having suggested that such crime can only be committed by only  men against women and which notion however may not be correct at all times.

From all the above reasons, even though the incidences occur, rape cases involving male genders victims are less reported than that of the female counterparts. Rape on males has been found, by scholars, to have lasting and profound effects on the raped victim, even throughout the continuum of life. Depending on a variety of factors, effects of rape vary from one victim to the other. Such factors include the age of the victim when the rape happened; the younger the victim at the onset of rape, the worse the long lasting effects on the victim.

Another factor is the personality of the rapist. The effect is worse on the victim if the rapist is a close relative or friend as is mostly the case. This is due to the fact that the victim feels disappointed in the known adult whom he deposited his trust.

Victims of rape suffer both short and long-term psychological effect of rape. One of the most common psychological consequences of rape is self-blame. Victims use self-blame as an avoidance based coping tool.

Other common emotional and psychological effects are; Post traumatic disorder- feeling of severe anxiety and stress, Depression, Flashbacks, Personality disorder,  Dissociative disorder, Guilt, Distrust of others, Feeling of personality powerlessness, Anger  etc.

Victims of rape also suffer physical effect and this can arise from both forced sexual assault and those not involving forcible submission, such as drug assisted date rape. Whatever the means explored in raping the victim, rape has several other psychological consequences.

THE NIGERIAN LAW REQUIREMENTS ON RAPE AND THE NEED TO AMEND SAME:

It has been revealed above that it is important to protect boys especially from rape as this practice has long lasting and profound effects on the boys even throughout the continuum of life.

Medical Science as well as psychology has been able to offer some degree of cure on male rape victims and the effect it has on them. However, the law ought also to be able to offer some more protection on both sexes, such that one sex will not be protected to the neglect of the other sex.

Rape under the Nigerian laws, is regarded as obsolete as seen in the introductory part which focuses only on the females as opposed to a balance provision for both male and females. Modern socio-legal realities have shown us that the legal definition of rape in Nigeria can no longer be applicable to effectively combat this rape menace. Below are what to be considered:

Firstly, the wordings of section 357 of the Nigerian Criminal Code, read with Section 6 should be modified to reflect the fact that (anal or oral) penetration can be done on boys too, not only girl/female. With due respect to our Learned Jurists, this aspect of our Laws should be regarded as outdated and as such calls for an urgent modification to combat this offence of rape.

The World Health Organisation (WHO), in 2012, defined rape as physicallyforced or otherwise coerced penetration, even if slight, of the vulva or anus, using a penis or body parts or an object”

It is to this end that it is suggested that the legislatures modify the definition of rape to include penetration not only to the vagina but to any part in the body of the victim and not only by the use of penis to penetrate but also the use of objects, mouth, finger, tongue, etc;

The wordings should also reflect that penetration can also be done by women using fingers, objects, mouth and so on. To sum it up, the wordings in the Nigerian legislation should be more gender neutral so as to accommodate and protect the both female and male victims.

Secondly, it has been identified that rape victims especially boys show a great reluctance to report incidences of rape. The Law ought to be reformed to make criminal trials or civil suits of this nature to, at all times and in all cases, be done in camera. This would encourage the male rape victims to come forward and report as well as seek justice without any fear of social stigma.

The Nigerian Law of Evidence provides that a conviction cannot be secured upon uncorroborated and unsworn evidence of a person witnessing the penetration of the victim’s vagina. However, in most cases of rape, the clandestine nature of the act makes it difficult for there to be any other witness around apart from the victim and this alone makes conviction not to be achievable. How this is possible, practically defeats my imagination. It is a clear erosion of justice. To this end, I suggest that this requirement of corroboration be left to the discretion of the court whether or not to admit it.

THE VIOLENCE AGAINST PERSONS PROHIBITION ACT 2015.

Due to the wide spread cry for a change of the law on this issue of male rape and stiffer punishment meted out to one convicted, the Violence against Persons Prohibition Act[4] was signed into law on the 23 May 2015 to prohibit all forms of violence against persons either privately or publicly and to provide maximum protection and punishment for offenders.

The Act broadened the definition of rape as known in Nigeria and included rape to also include male victim.

Section 1 of the Act provides as follows:

A person commits the offence of rape if:

  1. 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;
  2. The other person does not consent to the penetration
  3. The consent is obtained by force or means of threat or intimidation of any kind or by fear of harm or by means of false and fraudulent representation as to the nature of the act or the use of any substantive or additive capable of taking away the will of such person or in the case of a married person by impersonating his or her spouse

From the definition of the Act above, the offence of rape has been extended to include male rape and rape of individual either male or female with objects and fraudulent misrepresentation. The enactment of the above law and the expansion of the offence of rape has further protected the Nigeria citizens.

The offence under the law is also stiffer compared to other provisions. Section 2 of the  Act provides thus:

A person convicted of an offence under subsection (1) of this section is liable to imprisonment for life except:

  1. Where the offender is less than 14 years of age, the offender is liable to a maximum of 14 years imprisonment;
  2. In all other cases, to a minimum of 12 years imprisonment with an option of fine;
  3. In the case of rape by a group of persons, the offenders are liable jointly to a minimum of 20 years imprisonment without an option of fine.

Asides the punishment given, the law provides that a register be opened for convicted sexual offenders and such register be made accessible to the public.

While the punishment prescribed for the offenders is commendable, it however gives room for confusion as to which of the punishment should apply in cases where the offender is not 14 years of age. Should it be imprisonment for life or minimum of 12 years imprisonment without an option of fine?

Asides punishing the offender, the law also makes provision for compensation of the victim as the court may deem fit to award based on the circumstances of the case[5].

While the provision of the Act is commendable, its jurisdiction is however limited to High courts in the Federal Capital Territory Abuja only[6]. As such other states in Nigeria cannot apply same expect it is enacted by the State Assembly and signed into law by the Governor of the state.

 PROPOSAL FOR CURBIUNG ENDEMIC RAPE IN NIGERIA

Having examined the concept of rape, its causes, incidences of rape in Nigeria and its effects, the recent development of the law on this issue,the following measures are proposed to curb the endemic rape in Nigeria.

Government and the society need to declare a zero tolerance on rape in Nigeria and commit adequate resources to tracking down offenders and thereby encouraging victims to come forward and report to the police.

Strong legal sanction is required so as to protect both male and female from the cruelty of rape and other abuses. The then Senate President, David Mark, noted that we must ensure that maximum sanction are meted out to culprits of rape and sexual abuses”

It is not just enough to ensure maximum sanction or punishment; it is also of great importance to enforce this punishment without fear or favour and in a compact and decisive manner. This will help to deter other members of the public from rape.

Underage children should always be supervised and not to be allowed to stay with people that are not to be trusted.

Finally, it is my recommendation that the various states in Nigeria should adopt and enact the provision of the Violence against Persons and Prohibition Act 2015 as same will drastically reduce the incidence of male rape when implemented.

[1] http://dailypost.ng/2016/04/11/man-rapes-10-year-old-boy-in-ebonyi/ accessed on 20/12/2018

[2] http://dailypost.ng/2016/02/23/sodomy-mallam-rapes-9-year-old-boy-in-lagos/ accessed on the 20/12/2018

[3] https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2016/08/19/rape-of-men-under-reported-sexual-abuse/ accessed o the 20/12/2018

[4] Cap

[5] Section 1(3) Violence against Persons Prohibition Act

[6] Section 27  supra

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Author: chas