THE APPRAISAL OF THE LAW ON RAPE IN NIGERIA
Rape has always been with mankind. However, in recent times, the incidence of rape has increased in Nigeria. Early law on rape was enacted with a view to protecting virgins from rape, abduction and forced marriage. It was also the intention of the lawmakers to protect the interest of a father in the virginity of his daughter or the interest of a husband in his wife’s fidelity. The laws were made to protect women mostly virgins and wives, this shaped the common law definition of rape which is maintained in some jurisdictions like Nigeria. However, there is a progression in the offense of rape, it is evident in recent years that men are also victims of rape and should be protected by the law. Also, they are other evolving sexual practices that can be used by a person intending to have forceful sexual connection with another, for instance, the penetration of the penis into the anus or the mouth, or the penetration of any other part of the body into the vagina. This has steered many countries to update their laws on rape.
Many Nigerian women who have been raped suffer in silence without reporting the incident to law enforcement agencies. The culture of silence aggravates this problem partly from humiliation and intimidation of victims by the police as well as the embarrassment of public acknowledgment and also the rigor in proving rape. In addition to this, being ostracized by those who consider rape as bringing dishonor to the woman’s family and community worsens the situation Thus many rape victims are unwilling and afraid to testify about their experience and the rapist goes ahead for the next victim. It isn’t false stating that rape is pandemic in Nigeria, between 2001 and 2005, 10,079 rape cases were reported. The same study also indicated that only 18 percent of rape cases in Nigeria are reported.
This paper looks at the scope of the law on rape in Nigeria, the evolving development in the laws on rape in other jurisdictions with regards to the definition of rape, proof of rape, capacity to commit rape, consent, and victims of rape. The paper also made recommendations on how to develop the penal provisions on rape in Nigeria.
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