Understanding the nitty-gritty of rape

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By Haruna Mohammed

Rape is one of the major offences prevalent in our societies today, it is affecting significant number of people especially women in an unpleasant manner physically, socially and psychologically.

It alienates the victims; traumatize the parents and destabilize the society.

Rape is one of the serious offences classified as Felony in the criminal law whose punishment after conviction could extend to life imprisonment.

It is not a compoundable offence, meaning the offence will not be terminated by the complainant, the victim or the police.

What is rape?

According to section 282, Cap 89 Penal code laws of the Federation, “A man is said to commit rape if he has sexual intercourse with a woman/girl in any of the following circumstances;

a-against her will,

b-without her consent;

c-with her consent when the consent is obtained by putting her in fear of death or of hurt;

d-with her consent when the man knows he is not her husband and that her consent is given because she believes herself to be lawfully married;

e-with or without her consent, when she is under 14 years of age or of unsound mind”

Note that the above definition of rape is applicable only in the North as enshrined in the penal code law.

However, in the Southern part of Nigeria, the meaning of rape as enshrined in section 357 Cap C38 of Criminal code, “Any person who has 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 threat or intimidation of any kind or by fear of harm or by means of false or fraudulent¬† representation as to the nature of the act or in the case of married woman by impersonating her husband is guilty of an offence which is called rape.”

What constitute rape?

Mere penetration is sufficient to constitute the offence of rape. Once you fail to prove penetration, the offence either become attempt to commit rape or indecent assault. So care must be taken not to temper with evidence that will prove the offence of rape.

How to prove penetration

As soon as cases of rape occurred or detected, quickly inform the police who will rush the victim to the hospital and obtain medical report which is a vital corroboration to prove penetration in Court.

Do not temper with the clothes of the victims and the scene until when the police conclude investigation. Doing so may temper with the evidence and the culprit will go scot free.

Hand over the clothes of the victims to the police, they may contain semen or blood stains which will be used as further evidence in the court.

Note also that having carnal knowledge or sexual intercourse with a girl of less than 14 or 16 years even with her consent is rape or defilement as the case may be because consent is immaterial here.

Finally, bear in mind that rape is a felonious offence whose punishment can be life imprisonment without option of fine as stated in section 358 of criminal code.

The punishment for attempted rape itself is 14 years imprisonment with or without canning under section 359 CC,

Conclusion:

Members of the public particularly parents/guardians are enjoined to be watchful and caution their children against strangers and also encourage them to report any person making sexual advance or harassment on them to enable the parent take a proactive measure before it becomes intractable.

The public should also be security conscious at all times and always report suspicious rape cases in their neighborhood to the nearest Police stations for prompt action.

Haruna Mohammed is the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Anambra State Police Command. He could be reached at harunappro@gmail.com.

Photo: Police Public Relations Officer, Anambra State Police Command, SP Haruna Mohammed.

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