Rape and Defilement: A parallel Line That Can Never Meet
Recently, the Nigerian lawmakers solidified the punishment for rape because of the bad effect it has on the community. This is a good development though, there is a need to revisit this law with defilement inclusive. While rape is bad, defilement is worse.
In Nigeria, the ugly scenario floods the nation and the Nigeria media are daily becoming awash with catalogue of incidents and stories of girls and women being not only sexually molested and abused but most wickedly descended on and raped without scruples.
Rapists or defilers do leave this poor victims wallowing in both physical and psychological trauma without urgent remedies, even in the face of apparent enabling laws against such dastardly and inhuman crimes.
Rape, as it is defined under the codes, means to have carnal knowledge of a woman of 18 years or above without her consent. While Defilement can be defined as having carnal knowledge of a girl of 13, 14, 15 or 16, that is, whoever girl below 18 yeaers.
The situation is becoming rampant that victims nowadays are mostly little girls within the ages of three month to 12 years old. The rate that children are being defiled is alarming and outrageous that requires more need to be done to curtail this issue before it gets out of hand.
Rape and defilement are two different crimes in our extant law. And the both have almost the same ingredients but different procedure of establishing its occurrence. Therefore, the lawmakers will have to review the sections and methods of establishing defilement cases, which do exculpate perpetrators from being punished.
Verily, the reports have shown it that the rate of defilement’s cases in Nigeria are more than rape cases. But on the contrary, our lawmakers and the people are hammering on the increament of rape’s punishment more than defilemenet. And in practice and in our Nigerian law of crime, the two are governed by different sections and procedures.
The defilements’ cases reported in Nigeria are plethoral: The case of one mrs. Ngozi Ugwu that her seven year old niece was defiled by three men, will always ringing the bell in the head of every Nigerian. Those three men namely, Kazeem Mohammed (40 years), Tobi Daramola (19 years old), and James Anieskin (19 years). (Daily Sun Newspaper. Thursday 19th December 2013, p.27)
Equally, Seventeen year old school girl was abducted in Benin, Edo State while returning from school by a gang of three men who confined her to their room, took turns of defiling her (Daily Sun Newspaper, 10th January 2014, p.12).
Also, A pastor, Emmanuel Mathew, aged 50, who is the general overseer of the choice Bible church was alledged to have defiled three pupils, one was aged nine while the other two were both seven years. (Vanguard Newspaper).
Worrisomely too, a virgin school girl at Ikorodu Lagos was lured into a room forcefully striped naked and raped to a coma by a gang of three (Daily Sun Newspaper).
A police corporal, Anthony Onoja was dismissed from the Nigerian police force for defiling a two-year-old girl (Daily Sun Newspaper).
Also the recent case of Farshina a 12-year-old girl that was gang-raped by 11 men in Jigawa state. All 11 men who allegedly committed the crime were arrested. One of the suspects revealed that they had raped the victim on several occasions (Legit Nigeria, 2020).
And the heart touching case of a 35- year – old man , Adekunle Olalere who defiled a two – year – old girl in Ogun State. (Conscience Reporter, 2020).
All these above incidents are pathetic and tear-evoking the situation of our young girls in this vulnerable environment, most worrisomely, this ungodly defilement act is increasing day by day and lamenting across the country.
Though,the offence of defilement of a girl under thirteen or eleven (depending on the laws of the state), yet it is a very serious offence. It is immaterial whether the girl gave her consent or not as she is deemed under the law as being incapable of consenting. The offence of defilement of young girls is complete upon penetration no matter how slight it may be.
It isettled under Section 218 of the Criminal Code Act which provides that any person who has unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under the age of thirteen is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for life with or without caning. While an attempt to have carnal knowledge of a girl under thirteen is punishable with fourteen years imprisonment, yet there are some limitations and conditions that are made it difficult to bring defilers to book.
However, the clogs that draw back the success of curbing this unholy act are the issue of time of prosecution as well as issue of corroboration in establishing the occurrence of defilement, which our lawmakers will have to revisit and give a new light of the day.
Pursuant to criminal procedure of Nigeria, it is pertinent that prosecution for either defilement of the girl or an attempt to defile the girl is commenced within two months after either of the offences are committed if not, the accused person can no longer be prosecuted and he will be exonerated.
It is pathetic that this condition has made most of the perpetrators of defilements’ cases escape the wrath of law and encourage them to persit in such unholy act. whereas, this condition is uncalled for in rape cases.
That is why If an offence of this nature occurs, it is pivotal to remember that time begins to run from the day the offence is committed, and to lodge a complaint with the police immediately and request that prosecution be commenced as soon as practicable in order to make sure that justice is achieved.
Another distinction is the issue of corroboration. Corroboration as it was defined in the case of Ogunbayo V. State, is an independent statement or evidence to support the evidence of the victim in the case. It is further held in the case that corroboration is a must in the defilement’s case.
Besides, no conviction will be made on the uncorroborated testimony of victim’s witness alone. And if no corroborative evidence is given any such conviction will be quashed on appeal.
All aforementioned limitation and condition are not applicable in rape cases. These have given less important to the defilement’s cases. That is why Nigeria is experiencing persistence in defiling of our girls by barbaric animal in human skin. Because defilers can easily get scot free once the conditions are not met. And to be frank, those conditions are really hard to meet.
Kudos to our law-makers for aggravating the punishment of rape and kidnapping. But the issue of defilement has to be given a serious glance because rape and defilement are like two rivers going on the same line but can never meet.
If Nigeria failed to protect her woman resources by removing all those conditions and let the law stand on itself, I’m afraid that our country may not ever get a young girl like that of Tolulope, the first youngest combatant pilot, after losting their physical and psychology to the trauma of defilement at tender age.
But before then, God bless Nigeria.
Olayinka Abdurrazzaq is a 300 level law student, University of Ilorin.
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