Although domestic violence takes place everywhere, subjective evidence in Nigeria tells of a culture in which such assaults are shockingly common, with a huge number of them unreported. Such stories are just snippets from what is a pandemic of physical and sexual violence that is destroying the lives of countless women, girls and sometimes boys in the country.
Speaking on Say No Campaign weekly DoroCorruption Discussion series via instagram live, the Executive Director of Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), Dr. Abiola Akiyode defined rape as having unlawful canal knowledge of a woman without her consent, and can be established in different ways; it must be without her consent; when she is put in a situation of fear; when there is a misrepresentation, including the many different ways highlighted by the law, that rape can established.
According to her, a child is defined by virtue of the child’s right act as anyone below the age of eighteen (18) years, and defilement occurs to anyone below the specified age of eighteen, not rape. One of the problems we are having with our laws is clearly not following the Child’s Right Act which specified age 18, so, there are different things in the penal code and criminal code, while in some other places, a child is talked about within the context of age 13 and 11; there is a problem of uniform age. In 2003, the child’s right act was passed in about 26 states; therefore the generally acceptable definition of a child is anyone below the age of 18. Child defilement therefore occurs with anyone below the age of 18 either with or without consent, so the question of consent is entirely out of the options because a child cannot give consent, and penetration will also have to be established.
For states that are yet to adopt the Child’s right act, Dr. Abiola stated that the inability of these states to adopt the act does not change the fact that defilement is an offence, and in states where the act has been passed, child marriage is automatically a crime. According to her, it is alarming that child marriage is still very common particularly in the North West and North east zones of the country, and therefore, there is a need for advocacy; the government must show political responsibility to address it. It is a negotiation between that must be done with the legislatures in those states, to be able to pass the child’s right act and put an end, this form of violence against little children across the country.
In terms of penalty for rape, Dr. Abiola retorted that our laws would have been sufficient if followed to the later, but due to our justice system, we have a problem with enforcement. She also called for a more effective enforcement system or implementation process instead of asking for a capital punishment for rape/defilement offenders.