By Josephine Agbonkhese
Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, the Executive Director, Women Advocates Research & Documentation Centre, WARDC, speaks on the rise in rape cases.
Rape has of late been on the rise. Do we have adequate deterrent for potential rapists?
As we all know, rape is an unjustifiable act that is condemned in our society. The severity of the offence of rape cannot be over-emphasized. Therefore, the punishment meted out should not be lenient. By virtue of our Criminal Code, Penal Code and Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, the punishment for rape is life imprisonment.
In my opinion, life imprisonment is not adequate for a despicable act such as rape because the convicted rapist may be granted pardon by an incoming government. The preferred punishment for rape is the maximum punishment with hard labour.
Let’s look at the number of rape cases that have been reported in the country in the last couple of years. Do we have reliable data?
About two million women and girls are raped every year and only about 28% of these cases are reported. Though, there is no data to support or disprove this claim. However, it is hoped that the Sex Offenders Register that was launched in 2019 will serve as a data gathering tool on reported cases.
So rape is not well reported in Nigeria…
Rape cases are not well reported for various reasons including the fear of stigmatisation, police extortion and a lack of trust in the criminal justice system. Victims are deterred by too many factors.
What is the distribution of rape cases on state basis? Where is rape most rampant?
Though there is no clear statistics, from the happenings around us, we can say that rape is rampant in states like Lagos, FCT, Oyo, Edo, Delta, Kano and Ondo. The problem with Nigeria has always been data gathering and management. Until this is addressed, reliable statistics will continue to elude us.
Any rough statistics on suspects involved so far and number of victims that have died? What happened to these suspects?
The problem is that since there is no clear statistics on reported cases of rape, it will be difficult to give a clear statistics. We seriously need to develop a strong data management system for this culture to become a thing of this past.
How difficult or easy is it to prosecute rape?
Prosecuting rape cases is usually a difficult one due to some underlying factors and procedures that the prosecution needs to establish to secure conviction of the accused. The police are biased, so also is the society. All of these make prosecuting rape tough for victims who desperately seek and, in fact, need justice.
Why are most rape cases hard to prosecute?
Most rape cases are hard to prosecute because the prosecution is usually unable to link direct evidence to the accused, to warrant a conviction. Also, because the victim, in most cases, does not testify, there is lack of corroboration of the evidence of one witness and lack of medical evidence.
Why do people rape?
There are many unjustifiable reasons why people rape. Some are as a result of narcotic drug intake, alcohol, frustration, anger, lust, sexual gratification, weak laws and policies, childhood environment and poverty; and most importantly, the impunity that comes with the offense of rape
What categories of females are mostly prone to rape and why?
Rape is committed against women and girls. There is no blanket composition for the most hit. Just as babies are raped, old women are too. Only five days ago, a 70-year-old woman was reportedly raped by a 25-year-old man at Ijoko area of Ogun State. The suspect, who, in fact, admitted to the crime, told the police he was under the influence of alcohol.
What must be done to end rape?
Rape can become a thing of the past if the following measures are put in place: laws and policies are reviewed to provide stiffer punishments; and end is put to victim blaming; zero tolerance for rape is instilled; public awareness campaign against rape is regularly done; and an end is put to impunity by holding perpetrators accountable.