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Opinion | Rape and Its Causes: A Holistic Approach

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Do you know that:

• When a woman intentionally kisses a man by forcefully putting her tongue into his mouth, it is rape

• Even a man can be raped


Rape is one of the crimes that is not tolerated in nations all over the world. It is a sexual violence-related crime which is considered to be one of the most committed offences all over the world. Of  late, the crime of rape seems to be on the increase, and has attracted much attention, globally. Following the recent case of the rape of one Uwa in a Church in Nigeria, people have taken to the cyberspace to discuss the issue and condemn it. While some have called for justice, others have once again resurrected the argument of indecent dressing. The truth is that, indecent dressing has always been the argument that follows, each time the crime of rape is committed. Many persons, especially, females, do not seem to agree with this perspective as some of the victims of rape were raped even as they were seen as decent folks. It is this writer’s position that there is no justification for rape whatsoever. A rapist is a rapist and should be made to face the full weight of the law; however, it is the writer’s opinion that in as much as we are to focus on prosecuting offenders, that is to say, rapists, we should also try to look at the causes of it. This piece is aimed at looking at rape, its causes, and also proffer some tips to help address the issue.


Definition of Rape:

The Criminal Code which covers the Southern Part of Nigeria has defined rape under Section 357 in the following words:

“Any person who has unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman or girl, without her consent, or with her consent, if the consent is obtained by force or by means of threat or intimidation of any kind, or by fear of harm, or by means of false and fraudulent misrepresentation as to the nature of the act, or in the case of a married woman, by personating her husband, is guilty of an offence which is called rape”.

Furthermore, Section 6 states that: “When the term “carnal knowledge” or the term “carnal connection” is used in defining an offence called rape, it is implied that the offence, so far as it regards that element of it, is complete upon penetration”. Also, the second limb of the said section states that “unlawful carnal knowledge” means carnal connection which takes place than between husband and wife”. This means that by this law, a man cannot rape his wife. The man can at most be guilty of assault if he applies force in such a manner that the woman feel battered.

Section 282 of the Penal Codes states that: (1) “A man is said to commit rape who, except in the case referred to in subsection (2) of this section has sexual intercourse with a woman in any of the following circumstances – (a) against her will; (b) without her consent, with her consent, when her consent is obtained by putting her in fear of death or hurt; (c) with her consent, when the man knows that he is not her husband and that her consent is given because she believes that he is another man to whom she is or believes herself to be lawfully married; (d) with or without her consent, when she is under fourteen years of age or of unsound mind.

By the Child Rights Act, it becomes clearer that sexual intercourse with a child with or without consent is unlawful sexual intercourse. Section 31 of the Act which deals with unlawful sexual intercourse stated to the effect that: (1) no person shall have sexual, intercourse with a child (2) person who contravenes the provisions of subsection (1) of this section commits the offence of rape and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for life (3) where a person is charged with an offence under this section it is immaterial that: (a) The offender believes the person to be of or above the age of eighteen years, or (b) The sexual intercourse was with the consent of the child.

However, the Violence Against Persons Act, 2015 which applies to the FCT, went further to expand the crime of rape. Section 1 of the Act provides that: (1) A person commit the offence of rape if – (a) He or she intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person with any part of his or her body or anything else; (b) The other person does not consent to the penetration; or (c) The consent is obtained by force or means of threat or intimidation of any kind or by fear of harm or by means of false and fraudulent representation as to the nature of the act or the use of any substance or additive capable of taking away the will of such person or in the case of a married person by impersonating his or her spouse.

Sub-section (2) provides that a person convicted of an offence under subsection (1) of the section is liable to imprisonment for life except: (a) where the offender is less than 14 years of age, the offender is liable to a maximum of 14 years of imprisonment. (b) In all other cases, to a minimum of 12 years imprisonment. (c) In the case of rape by a group of persons, the offenders are liable jointly to a minimum of 20 years imprisonment without an option to pay fine. (3) The court shall award appropriate compensation to the victim as it may deem fit in the circumstance. (4) A register for convicted sexual offender shall be maintained and accessible to the public.

The Act in Section 26 also provides for an offence of indecent exposure. The section reads: (1) A person who intentionally exposes his or her genital organs, or a substantial part thereof, with the intention of causing distress to the other party or that another person seeing it may be tempted or induced to commit an offence under this Act, commits an offence termed “indecent exposure”. (2) A person who intentionally exposes his or her genital organs or a substantial part thereof, and induce another to either massage, or touch with the intention of deriving sexual pleasure from such acts, commits an offence under this section. (3) A person who commits an offence under this section is liable to upon conviction to a term of imprisonment of not less than 1 year or to a fine not exceeding N500,000 or both.

From the provision above, these can be outlined:


A Woman Can Also Be Guilty of Raping a Man:

1. It is rape if a woman without the consent of the man, intentionally or forcefully kisses him, by putting her tongue into his mouth. The moment there is no consent, and the penetration is forceful or with the element of threat or false representation, it is rape.

2. It is the same if she does same to her fellow woman.

3. It is also rape if a woman penetrates another woman’s vagina or anus with anything or any part of her body without consent. The other elements also apply.

4. Where a woman exposes her genital organs or any part of them and same puts a man or a woman in distress as a result of it, the same amounts to indecent exposure. So it is a crime for a woman to go nude in the presence of a man or another woman without consent with the intention of putting the other person in distress, or when the same exposes such genital parts thus tempting the other person, whether male or female to touch same to derive sexual pleasure, a crime has been committed. 

The above stated analysis applies also to a man doing same to a woman. The point to be noted is that rape is not just a crime committed against the female; even a man can be raped. Men can also be victims of rape. In fact, many men have been raped without them even being aware of it. Men have been kissed forcefully by women. So, when we speak against rape, we should be speaking against any form of it — whether done by a man to a woman or vice versa.


Why Considering the Causes of Rape?

More often than not, the argument has always been on implementing the prescribed punishment for rape. Perpetrators of this act have several times been caught and prosecuted, but people still get involved in rape. So, while we appreciate the conventional approach of incarceration, which is a traditional theory of punishment, it is also necessary we consider it from the criminological point of view. It is this writer’s position that addressing some of the factors that contribute to the crime of rape will also help in addressing this issue. The writer is not by any length saying that rapists are justified for committing the crime because there are some contributory factors, the writer is only of the opinion that it is not out of place to address some of the causes. So, what are some of the causes?

1. Drugs: Some of the rapists while engaging in the act are high on drugs before bouncing on their victims. When they lose their minds to drugs intake, it paves way for such acts, because at that point, they are out of their mind. Date-rape drugs also help in making victims vulnerable to sexual assaults. Though, not everybody who is high on drugs or addicted to drugs is a rapist, it is unarguable that people who are sexually driven may find it difficult controlling themselves when they are high on drugs. 

2. Pornography (aka: adult video or xxx video): Exposure to pornography goes a long way in contributing to the high rate of rape in our society. This brings the feminist dictum to mind, "pornography is the theory–rape is the practice" (Morgan, 1980). The article, “Pornography and Rape: Theory and Practice? Evidence From Crime Data in Four Countries Where Pornography Is Easily Available” by B Kutchinsky, shows the causal link between pornography and rape, especially, aggressive pornography. Rape pornography has to a large extent implanted the idea of rape in the minds of viewers and the same has been practiced in the society. In some countries, possession of rape pornography is illegal.

3. Child Pornography: Child Pornography has been prohibited by Section 23 of the Nigerian Cybercrime Act, 2015. There are a lot of distributors and producers of child pornography all over the world. In a video sighted by this writer, an adult was seen fully engaged with a child in the act. Imagine the gruesome act. This begins to give a lot of mentally imbalanced men, the impression that children can be used for sexual pleasure and excitement. 

4. Money Voodoo (aka: Money Ritual): For the cause of making wealth, a lot of persons are made to undergo certain spiritual processes. There is the belief that one of the conditions given by such voodoo masters is that the client is to sleep with a virgin, child, and sometimes, a mad woman. The attempt to achieve this leads to rape, especially, when the females who can give consent refuse same. It has been argued that this has been one of the reasons for child rape.

5. Cultism: It has been argued that gang rape is one of the behavioural patterns of cultists in Nigeria and maybe elsewhere. Testimony (ies) is to the effect that girls are initiated into cult groups through raping and other acts. The belief is that rape poisons the minds of the victims, and makes them brutal for use. From another angle, evidence abound that rape has also been used as a tool for revenge. This knowledge is sometimes cultivated from revenge films and exposure to rape porn. 

6. Indecent Dressing: This cause has been considered to be one of the controversial causes of rape. In fact, feminists and even others seem not to buy the argument each time it is raised. The argument put forth is that, there are some victims of rape who are known for dressing decently. It has also been argued that this is not in any way a cause, as the same argument cannot be made about children who are raped.

7. Lack of Healing: Some of the rapists and sexually abusive persons are victims of rape and other molestations, themselves. When not well taken care of, or even healed, they may end up becoming monsters and serial rapists. This applies to both male and females.


Discarding the Causes?

The above listed causes are some of the causes or factors that are believed to contribute to the increase of rape in our society. Research and findings show that rape is caused by some of these factors. Although, there is no justification for rape whatsoever, we cannot rule out the fact that there are some things that contribute to the increase of rape in our society. Punishing rapists is not out of place, but it is also good considering the causes, if any. It is this writer’s opinion that if the causes are addressed from the root; it will also go a long way in dealing with the issue. It is not proper punishing offenders and then discarding the causes. Both advocacies should go side by side. 


The Way Forward:

The way forward is to look at some of these causes and address them accordingly. The Government has to look into the issue of pornography and address it. It may sound funny, but it is the truth. Lovers of porn movie may not appreciate this fact, but it is a reality before us. It is dangerous having porn dominating the whole cyberspace. Pornography is no longer treated as adult content, as even children are exposed to it. Porn movies are sold by almost every movie vendor, and children freely have access to it.

Some of our home videos expose teenagers and youngsters in general to drug addiction. Some of the music videos are also mediums through which this act is learnt. When the youths and even adults get addicted to drugs, rape pornography, revenge porn, child pornography and other manner of vices, the minds become polluted. These people who get exposed to these things sometimes feel like experimenting and indeed experiment them. 

From the victimological point of view under criminology, people who become victims of crimes by exposing themselves to the triggering of such act are considered “precipitative crime victims” or precipitation victims. Though some rapists do assault people who have not precipitated the act, facts still posit that some of the victims of crimes do become victims as a result of indecent dressing. When sensitive parts of the body are exposed, it triggers the sex urge of some men and generates much heat. And while some are able to control themselves, others who have some form of mental disorder, especially, those who have not mastered the act of self-control may end up practicing what they have learnt. Ladies must understand that not all men are the same. It’s a free world, yes, but not all have self-control. So, while we maintain the fact that indecent dressing is not a justification to commit rape, women who are known for dressing and exposing sensitive parts of their body should also do well or help themselves to dress well. To be blunt, a standing nipple which is well exposed, a well-positioned buttock shaped out of a light trouser, and an exposed vagina through a very tight legging will go a long way to make some men pause. God help them if they do not hit an electric pool, and maybe fall into the gutter. Only righteous and some morally equipped folks can resist the flowery spice of a female’s body.

The point is that we cannot pretend and say that indecent dressing is not a problem in our society. The government in their wisdom has decided to work on An Act To Prohibit And Punish Public Nudity, Sexual Intimidation And Other Related Offences. While rapists are made to face the full weight of the law, parents, and the government have a role to play to address indecent dressing. This also applies to the men, because even a man can be raped. 



This article proves that we have to start addressing the issue of rape from a holistic point of view. Protests and then punishments of rapists are not enough. Governments have to look into the issue of drug addiction, access to pornography, especially, child pornography, rape or aggressive pornography, etc. The government must also censor some of the movies and music that are produced. In a music video, all the men are almost fully dressed, but almost all the ladies are on pants and bra. Yet, both sexes are shooting the music together. Government must take proactive steps to address cultism and indecent dressing. NGOs and other stakeholders should spend resources to hold seminars in addressing these issues. Stakeholders must do well to see to the healing of rape victims, and also see to the rehabilitation of convicted rapists. Incarcerating rapists is not enough, but what have we done to rehabilitate them? If a rapist is just taken to the prison, and not subjected to counselling, he or she will come out and rape another person again. We all have a role to play to fight rape. We must all SAY NO TO RAPE!




By Robert Ebi
Founder, Academia of Ebi Robert (ACER)

Anchor, Your Rights School Series

You can contact the writer at: ebirobert7@gmail.com


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