What Other Offences Are Similar To Rape?
The Criminal Law of Lagos 2015 and other relevant laws contains an avalanche of similar offences to the offence of rape. The list and the punishments are reproduced hereunder:
- Child defilement under section 137 of the law, life imprisonment;
- Sexual assault by penetration under section 261 of the law, life imprisonment;
- Attempt to commit rape and sexual assault by penetration under section 262 of the law,14 years imprisonment;
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- Sexual Assault (sexually touching another person without their consent under section 263 of the law,3 years imprisonment;
- Sexual harassment (unwelcome sexual advances) under section 264 of the law,3 years imprisonment;
- Causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent under section 265 of the law,5 years imprisonment;
- Abduction under section 267 of the law,7 years imprisonment;
- Abduction from the custody of parents under section 268 of the law,10 years imprisonment;
- Defilement of children under 13years of age under section 218 of the Criminal Code Act, life imprisonment, with or without canning;
- Coercion under section 3 of the Violence Against Person(Prohibition) Act 2015,3 years imprisonment;
- Wilfully placing a person in fear of physical injury, under section 4 of the Violence Against Person(Prohibition) Act 2015, 2 years imprisonment or to a fine N200,000.00 or to both;
- Offensive Conduct under section 5(1) of the Violence Against Person(Prohibition) Act 2015,2 years or to fine of N500,000.00 or to both.
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Defence To Rape
Except for the cases of defilement where consent is immaterial, as a child is deemed incapable of giving consent, the issue of ‘consent’ is one ground mostly raised in rape cases. ‘Consent’ means that the victim consented to the act. The Supreme Court aptly stated the issue in the case of Ogunbayo v. State (2007) ALL FWLR (Pt. 365) 408 at 425 – 426; Paras. H – A (SC), where the court held thus:
“Consent of the victim is a complete defence to the offence of rape. Queen v. Kufi (1960) WNLR 1; R. v. Harling (1938) 2 ALL ER 307, 26 CAR 127; D.P.P. v. Morgan (1975) ALL ER 147; R. v. Morgan (1976) AC 182.”
As easy as it may sound, the issue of consent has its own complexities. This necessitates the clear provision of section 266(1) &(2) of the Criminal Law of Lagos 2015which states thus:
- For the purpose of this Chapter, a person consents if he agrees by choice and has the freedom and capacity to make and communicate that choice.
- In determining whether a person charged had reasonable grounds for believing that another person consented, the court shall have regard to all the circumstances, including any step taken by the defendant to ascertain whether the woman or girl consented.
Indecent Dressing And The Offence Of Rape
Arguments are being raised as to the connection between indecent dressing and the offence of rape, i.e the indecent dressing of victims and the rape offenders, insinuating that indecent dressing proportionally increases rape cases.
It is opined that the issue of indecent dressing is not a defence or excuse for rape. As there are no one agreeable universal, country or state codes as to what constitutes ‘decent dressing’ in the female gender, the issue of indecent dressing is a subjective matter which cannot justify any criminal offence let alone rape.
Whether ‘indecent dressing’ constitutes ‘indecent acts’ as to criminalise the act of indecent dressing under section 134(1) of the Criminal Law of Lagos 2015 is a discussion for another day.
Theophilus Orumor Esq.
The Law House.
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