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Can a man be raped?

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Rape : 6 Lagelu Grammar School students denied bailBy Francis Ewherido

The debate started on my Facebook page. What prompted me to ask this question in my Facebook post was the story of a biology teacher, who was reportedly “raped” by five of his female students until he went into a “coma.”

The report said he was just recovering from an undisclosed ailment, so it was easy for the five students to overpower him. The report did not state how the rape took place. Did the girls perform oral sex on him or in his sick state, he managed to muster an erection and had vaginal sex with one, some or all of them? Was he pinned down or he was in charge?

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The report also said he did not shout for help because neighbours had gone to work, but the neighbour, who found him was around and even heard “voices from his room, although faint because our rooms are far apart. I thought he was merely having some conversation. I also heard moans…..” Was it rape or consensual sex? Did the girls threaten him with guns, machetes or other dangerous weapons? Couldn’t this have been an adventure gone awry? Until the police provide more information, I remain undecided.

What is rape? “The crime, typically committed by a man, of forcing another person to have sexual intercourse with the offender against their will.” This definition seems narrow, so let us take a broader definition. “Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration carried out against a person without that person’s consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority, or against a person who is incapable of giving valid consent, such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated, has an intellectual disability or is below the legal age of consent. The term rape is sometimes used interchangeably with the term sexual assault.” This definition also does not suffice.

For instance, what is “sexual intercourse” and what is “sexual penetration?” Wikipedia says:”Sexual intercourse (or coitus or copulation) is sexual activity typically involving the insertion and thrusting of the penis into the vagina for sexual pleasure, reproduction, or both. This is also known as vaginal intercourse or vaginal sex. Other forms of penetrative sexual intercourse include anal sex (penetration of the anus by the penis), oral sex (penetration of the mouth by the penis or oral penetration of the female genitalia), fingering (sexual penetration by the fingers), and penetration by use of a dildo (especially a strap-on dildo).” On the other hand, Wikipedia says: “sexual penetration is the insertion of a body part or other object into a body orifice, such as the vagina, anus or mouth, as part of human sexual activity or animal sexual behaviour.”

You can see that over time the goal post has been shifted as far as definition of sex is concerned. The secular world and some sections of Christendom have extended the frontiers of sex from heterosexual to include LGBT (lesbians, gay, bi-sexual and transgender) and the frontiers keep expanding. We now have pansexual, omnisexual, etc. these extensions have also led to the modification of the definition of rape. In the United States, for instance, until 2012, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) considered rape a crime solely committed by men against women. In 2012, the FBI changed the definition from:”The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will” to “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” The implication is that in the US, at least since 2012, men can be raped.

A story broke out in the US about four years ago, which one source later said was fake news. Two burglars allegedly broke into the home of a notorious gay rapist and got more than they bargained for. The gay rapist is 6.7 feet of flesh and muscles. He easily overpowered the burglars, tied them up and sodomised them for five days. The tabloids termed the incident as rape, but if it had happened before 2012, it would probably have been termed as just sexual assault.

But the same incident cannot be described as rape in Nigeria. The only rape recognized in Nigeria is sexual assault against women. Our Criminal Code states that a man commits rape when he has carnal knowledge of a woman against her will, without her consent, or if that consent was gotten by coercion. So those five girls could not have raped their teacher, even if they sexually assaulted him or took advantage of his weak state, as far our laws are concerned.

But a bill to amend the Criminal Code Act Cap C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, passed through second reading in the Senate last November. The bill, sponsored by Senator Oluremi Tinubu, seeks to delete portions of sections 218 and 221 and amend the definition of rape as contained in Section 357. When passed into law, rape in Nigeria, like America, will now be recognized as asexual crime against both men and women. But until our criminal code is amended, Nigerian-based men should know that they cannot be raped, no matter the level of sexual assault and onslaught. So mind the company you keep. Also, since rape scarcely occurs in public, mind those you share private moments with.

The amendment of the criminal code will provide legal recourse for many men. In homes and offices, drivers, domestic male staff, junior staff and agile and handsome young men are being allegedly sexually exploited by oga madam at the top, but they suffer in silence. I have heard of male staff, who were victimised because they refused to sleep with their female bosses. These are clearly cases of sexual harassments. But like women, who are sexually assaulted, they prefer to be silent. Is it because of stigmatisation or they fear nobody will believe them. When the bill is passed and signed into law, will male victims of sex abuse be encouraged to come forward?

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Law or no law, it would be more difficult for men to establish a case of rape. I can imagine lawyers tearing their cases to shreds in court. The definition of rape includes penetration. A man musters an erection and penetrates a woman, yet he is the rape victim; lawyers will probe deeper. Was there physical force, coercion, abuse of authority? Was the man tied or chained? Was a gun pointed at him or a knife pressed against his throat? In that case he should be in a state of fear for his life? Is it possible for a man in a state of fear to have an erection? Instead the penis would usually shrink. While the amendment is welcome, the problem of men is far from over as far as rape (of men) is concerned.

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