Despite life imprisonment penalty with or without caning for rapists as prescribed by section 358 of the Criminal Code Act, incidences of the offence keep rising. Nigeria police reported that there were more than 700 cases of sexual assault between January and May 2020, with numbers surging after a lockdown began in March. According to UNICEF data, one in four Nigerian girls is sexually assaulted before the age of 18.
Dr. Otto Juliet, Department of Psychiatry, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH):
There are lots of factors. Individual differences should be considered. We should be able to differentiate between rape and love making. Rape is an act between two individuals, minor or adult without the victim’s consent. Some individuals tend to misuse the word.
“The cause for the rising of rape cases can be traced to the use of psychoactive substances and other mental disorders. Psychoactive substances, predisposes people to higher rates of crimes, which rape is one of those. Some of the drugs are cocaine, marijuana, heroin and alcohol; these are all psychoactive drugs. After the use of any of the above drugs, the rapist demonstrates compulsive behaviour such as rape. In many occasions, rape is an effect of substance abuse and other mental disorders. Such as paraphilias who persistently have sexual urges, when their sexual partner(s) are not available, they tend to resort to rape. Some persons say the way the victim dresses, attracts the act, it is not usually the case. However, in handling cases of rapists, they should first be evaluated by a mental health professional to rule out a mental illness. Anyone can be vulnerable to rape.”
Isaac Otumala, sociologist and lecturer, Nigeria Institute of Journalism (NIJ):
There has been a great increase in the rate at which rape is reported in Nigeria society and is becoming worrisome. Rape is shown to be a universal phenomenon and its perpetrators cut across all age brackets.
However, the causes of rape include: indecent dressing by women, drug abuse by men, rape for ritual purposes, and uncontrolled exposure of youth to online pornography and laxity of laws against rapists. Also, social stigma, shame and public embarrassment of female victims discourage people from speaking up.
I think the solutions to this menace are as follows: Nigeria should exhibit zero tolerance to rape, expose every perpetrator to take full responsibility of his or her actions and should not be protected by parents, colleagues and friends. The government should enforce laws against rape. Public enlightening is also recommended.
Lastly, women should be encouraged to dress decently and victims should speak up and report rape cases to the appropriate authorities. Perpetrators should face the full weight of the law. I recommend 14 years imprisonment if an adult is raped and 21 years if the victim is a minor. That will serve as a deterrent to others who want to engage in s such illicit an act.”
Prof Ben Ezeohagwu, graphologist and Chancellor, African American University, Porto-Novo, Republic of Benin:
“The rise in cases of rape in Nigeria is caused basically by moral decadence. There is high moral bankruptcy connected to every facet of Nigerian people. Most families and homes have either lost or not developed eternal values meant to build better families and homes, as bedrock for national and corporate life of any nation, organization or community. This failure has led to damages or misfortunes in all sectors: education, health, management, governance, religion, etc
“Rapists when caught should be investigated and prosecuted. If they are found guilty, they should be put in reformatory homes. There, they are monitored, supervised and exposed to diverse training and trade in such a manner as to change them for better; as to learn, relearn and unlearn; and subsequently lead a better future life; if finally released to join larger society of Nigerians.”
Tessy Aniesi, gospel singer, rights activist:
“The cause of the rising cases of rape in Nigeria is as a result of systemic failure in handling this spiralling crime by the police and the society at large. In many situations, stigmatisation by the general public discourage many victims of rape from coming forward and telling their story and get therapy.
“Rapists when charged to court should be given quick trial. That measure will restore confidence in the mind of the victim. If rapists are caught, tried and jailed in time, recorded as sexual offender in database, it can serve as a form of deterrence to future offenders.
Lady Rose Adaku Mbata:
Human Rights lawyer and founder, Rights and Welfare of Traumatized Women Initiatives (RAWTWAY):
“The Covid-19 lockdown escalated the incidence of rape. This is because sex workers were off the streets and business activities were stagnated and since an idle fellow is a devil’s work shop, male of low resistance and moral raped any child they could lay hands on, children whether male, or female irrespective of their age.”
Social worker, Wanda Ebe:
Some victims and their families, fearing stigmatisation, police extortion and a lack of trust in the judicial process, choose not to report cases to the authorities. The penalty for rape in Nigeria is up to 14 years in prison, but I have seen a judge sentence someone to just four years, with two years suspended, because he was young and had a life in front of him.”
Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, lawyer, civil rights activist and founding Director, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Center (WARDC):
“One of the major causes is the slow justice system, community acquiescence and impunity that go with rape. The justice system and the failure of the police to diligently prosecute cases contribute immensely. Therefore, there is need for multi sectoral collaboration, support for survivors of rape, reintegration and the need to train police and judges on handling of cases and also creating special courts for rape.”