In the Nigerian legal system, can a man be raped? There has been a recent spike in the number of rape cases in Nigeria.
In the last two weeks alone, three (3) reported cases have attracted nationwide interest and advocacies against the evils of rape.
Not only have the cases increased, there seem to be a marked increase in the brutality of the crime.
Commendable efforts are ongoing by individuals, private organizations and public sectors to protect women and girls from sexual violence and to curb the menace of rape.
However, when it comes to rape, the focus lies strictly on women and girls.
Few people give any thoughts to male victims.
Even fewer people have any knowledge of the Nigerian laws on rape.
Can a man claim to have been raped?
What is the position of the Nigerian legal systems when victims of sexual violence are males?
In Nigeria, only women are capable of being raped.
The definition of rape in both the Criminal Code (applicable in all Southern States) and the Penal Code (applicable in all Northern States) makes no provision for male victims.
Section 357 of the Criminal Code (CC) states that;
Rape occurs when a person has unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman without her consent;
If with her consent by means of threat or intimidation, by means of fraudulent misrepresentation as to the act or by impersonating her husband.
Carnal knowledge involves the slightest penetration.
Clearly, only a woman or a girl may be raped as far as the wordings of the code suggest.
Also, since it is required that there must be genital penetration, a woman is physically incapable of committing the crime.
Section 282 of the Penal Code (PC) provides that;
A man is said to commit rape who has sexual intercourse with a woman in any of the following circumstances:
- Against her will
- Without her consent
- With her consent, when her consent has been obtained by putting her in fear of death or of hurt;
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;
With or without her consent when she is under fourteen years of age or of unsound mind.
Again, we see clearly here that the code is explicit in stating that victims of rape can only be women or girls.
What then would be the ruling, if a male is cajoled into sexual intercourse against his will?
Or if a more powerful male forcefully have anal sex with him?
It will be termed sexual assault or sodomy, not rape!
In November 2016, in the case of Darlington against the State of Lagos, Darlington was accused of having carnal knowledge of several boys who were part of the football team he coached.
He was not charged with rape, as there are no provisions within Nigerian law that explicitly state that males can be raped.
Instead, the Lagos State Division of the Nigerian Police Force charged him with sodomy in line with the provisions of Section 214(1) of the Criminal Code.
Owing to this shortcoming of both the Criminal Code and the Penal Code, there has been a call for the review of these laws so as to meet the ever-changing needs of modern society.
To this end, the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act 2015 (VAPP) was made.
Section 1 of VAPP states that;
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 or her body or anything else, without the other person’s consent.
This is clearly an improvement when compared to the Criminal Code and the Penal Code, as it makes provision for male victims.
However, its limitation is that, the VAPP Act only applies to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.
Therefore, it is imperative that new laws are made that covers the whole country and protect male victims of rape!
By Mordecai James.