The recent cases of rape in Nigeria has sparked outrage on social media; sending chills down the spine of many people. On the 30th of May, Uwaila Vera Omozuwa, a 22-year-old, died days after she was raped and brutally assaulted in a Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) church.
Days later, the police in Jigawa state nabbed a 57-year old man and 11 others who had serially raped a 12-year old girl for 2 months. “They hid me, repeatedly had sex with me and gave me peanuts”, the victim said.
These cases are just two out of many. Nigeria has a prevalent rape culture – an inveterate streak that has been aided by the failure of the criminal justice system in the country. According to the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, 2 million Nigerians are raped yearly. Although this claim has no public data to back it up, it is a pointer to the fact that Nigeria is a haven of sexual abuse.
In 2014, a National Survey carried out on Violence Against Children in Nigeria reported that one in four females experience sexual violence in their childhood. In 2017, the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported 2,279 cases of “rape and indecent assault”.
Globally, Nigeria has one of the highest cases of sexual violence. It is difficult to get accurate figures because many cases go unreported for two primary reasons: victims are silenced or they do not dare to speak about it. This is why it is important to review the extant laws on rape and sexual assaults in Nigeria. These laws have remained on paper with many perpetrators going scot-free.
Kunle Adebajo expressed this concern when he noted that “The real reason rapists are on the prowl unchecked is because of our messed criminal justice and surveillance system”.
Are there laws protecting rape victims?
The laws protecting victims of rape or any sexual assault in Nigeria are location-based. The Criminal Code Act in the Southern States, the Penal Code in the North, the Criminal Law of Lagos State (only applicable in Lagos State) and the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act which is applicable only in Abuja.
All of these laws frown at rape, condemning the act in strong terms. However, the problem lies in the punishments prescribed and failure to uphold them.
Without doubt, there is no better time to initiate sustained advocacy for the review of the punishment section for rape in Nigeria. More stringent punishments like castration and life imprisonment should be recommended. Due to the nature and sensitivity of the crime, a special court should be created for trying rape to afford the victims some sort of privacy to express themselves.
After the case is tried, the meting out of punishment on the offender should be made a public affair to serve as deterrence to the public. The review of our criminal justice system is necessary to renew the confidence and hope of the citizens that justice would be gotten when sought.
This Article is from Brain Builders Youth Development Initiative. We are lending our voice and championing the #ReviewOurRapeLaws advocacy