This topic happens to be a sensitive one as well as an old discussion which has raged on from the BCs. Before going any further, what is rape?
The word rape comes from a Latin word rapere which means to seize or take away forcefully.
Rape is a type of sexual assault which involves sexual penetration carried out against a person without their consent. This act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or against a person who is incapable of giving valid consent such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated, has an intellectual disability or is below legal age of consent.
The world health organization also defines rape as a form of sexual assault. The definition of rape varies historically and culturally but one thing in common is lack of consent. The constitution of Nigeria initially defines rape in what I’d term a myopic view of a rather critical topic.
Section 357 of the Nigerian criminal code act defines rape as an act of having unlawful carnal knowledge with a woman or a girl without her consent or with her consent if obtained by force or by means of threat or intimidation of any kind or by fear of harm or by a means of false or fraudulent representation. Hence, only a woman could be a victim of rape.
But a new provision entrenched in the Violence Against Persons Act have expanded the scope to include Men as victims.
According to the VIOLENCE AGAINST PERSONS (PROHIBITION) ACT, 2015
A person commits the offence of rape if:
- He or she intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus, or mouth of another person with any other part of his or her body or anything else
- The other person does not consent to the penetration; or
- 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.
GLOBAL PREVALENCE OF RAPE
Internationally, the incidence of rape recorded by the police as at 2008 ranged per 100000 people, from .2 in Azerbaijan to 92.9 in Botswana with 6.3 in Lithuania as the median. This begs the question of who can be raped? Primarily, rape is committed by males against female; however there have been recorded incidents of females raping males and males raping males.
South Africa, Oceania and North America report the highest numbers of rape with South Africa once called the world’s rape capital. It is estimated that 500000 rapes are committed in South Africa annually with the country having the highest incidence of child sexual abuse. Most incidence of rape are committed by people known to the organization.
CLASSSIFICATION OF RAPE
Incidences of rape are classified into number categories and they may describe the relationship of the perpetrator to the victim and the context of sexual abuse.
Rape types include but not limited to
- Marital rape: also called Spousal rape. It is rape between a married couple without one spouse’s consent.
- Date rape: this occurs when a victim is raped by someone he/she is on a date with.
- Gang rape: it occurs when a group of people participate in the rape of a single victim.
- Rape by deception:Rape by deception occurs when the perpetrator gains the victim’s agreement through fraud
- Serial rape: a rape committed by a person over a relatively long period of time and committed on a number of victims.
- Child sexual abuse
- prison rape
- Acquaintance rape
- War rape
- Statutory rape
A lot of you must have heard this word before; it happens to be a rather common word. Like stated earlier, lack of consent is the key to the definition of rape.
Consent simply put is informed approval, in this context; it is freely given
approval to sexual activity between parties involved. It is not necessarily
expressed verbally and may instead be overtly implied from actions. However, it should be noted that the absence of an objection does not constitute consent.
The concept of consent deserves lot of emphasis for it is the key pointer to
determine the process of rape.
Lack of consent may result from either forceful compulsion by the perpetuator or inability to give consent such as those asleep, intoxicated or mentally compromised.
Types of consent
- Implied consent: is a consent inferred from a person’s actions and the facts and circumstances of a particular situation.
- Expressed consent: one that is clearly and unmistakably stated, rather than implied
- Informed consent: medically, informed consent is that given by a person who has a clear appreciation and understanding of the facts, implications, and future consequences of an action.
- Unanimous consent: a consent given by all parties.
For sexual activity, you seek expressed consent which is most times verbal using words like yes, ok, et cetera but can be communicated using clear physical action or clues.
How does consent work?
Consent is first of all about communication, giving consent once does not amount to a reoccurrence or increase of sexual contact.
Therefore, a kiss does not give permission to take-off someone’s clothes neither does having sex in the past compels sex in the future.
Consent can also be withdrawn at anytime, so if in the process of sex and the partner says no, consent has been withdrawn, seems funny but it is what it is!
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF RAPE?
Ranging from walking alone, to flirting, to wearing revealing clothing, to being at wrong places, a poor understanding or rather an appalling level of hypocrisy has downplayed the real reason behind rape.
The main reason for rape is the rapists, whom are most times men, who cannot control their sexual urges.
However, according to the WHO, the underlying causes can be attributed to
- Beliefs in family honor and sexual purity
- Attitudes of male sexual entitlement
- Weak legal sanctions for sexual violence as well as the inadequate enforcements of existing sanctions, this is prevalent in 3rd worldcountries most especially.
WHY DO PEOPLE RAPE?
No single facet can explain the motivation for rape, underlying motives for rape can be multifaceted. Several factors include
- sexual gratification or
- evolutionary proclivities.
Sexual aggression is often considered a masculine identity which is characteristic of manhood among some males, a culture which sees women as generally inferior also promotes this barbaric action.
WHY DO VICTIMS NOT REPORT CASES OF RAPE ?
There are many objective reasons why victims do not report rape and they include:
- Poor support systems;
- fear or risk of retaliation; being blamed, not being believed; being mistreated and/or socially ostracized.
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH EFFECTS OF RAPE?
Male and female survivors of rape may experience similar mental health, behavioural and social consequences. However, girls and women bear the overwhelming burden of injury and disease from rape, not only
because they comprise the wide majority of victims but also because they are vulnerable to reproductive and sexual health effects such as unwanted
pregnancy, unsafe abortion and a higher risk of sexually transmitted infections, including from HIV, during vaginal intercourse.
Some of the health effects are listed below;
- Reproductive health: Gynaecological trauma ( injury to the female genital area), Unwanted pregnancy, Unsafe abortion, Sexual dysfunction, Sexually transmitted infections including HIV.
- Mental health: Depression, Post-traumatic stress disorder Anxiety, Sleep difficulties, Suicidal behaviour, Panic disorder.
- Behavioural effects: High-risk behaviour (e.g. alcohol and drug abuse). Higher risk of perpetrating (for men) or of experiencing subsequent sexual violence (for women).
- Lethal outcomes: Death from: suicide, pregnancy complications,unsafe abortion, AIDS, murder during rape or for ‘honour’, infanticide of a child born of rape.
TREATMENT OF RAPE VICTIMS
This based on the assessment of damage, the general assessment will prioritize the approach especially the treatment of physical injuries both genital and non-genital which could range from bites, to laceration, bruises, swellings and in more violent cases, gunshot wounds and stabs.
The major damage of rape is more of psychological, rape victims need psychological support in order to overcome the effects, counseling might prove useful in most cases.
PREVENTION OF RAPE
The prevention of rape takes various approaches, however all rape can be prevented only by the rapist. Approaches can be categorized as individual, health care responses or community based efforts. Most effectively, males who are most times perpetrators of this act need thorough orientation, in order to understand the concept of consent as well as the impact of the act on the victim.
Government on their own part would do well in revising the criminal code concerning rape as well as enforcement of stringent laws to punish this act.
Rape is despicable and tears the victim’s mind apart. Depending on the approach, the victim could end up in an abyss. For our mothers, sisters, daughters, young children especially both boys and girls alike, there is need to address this matter radically. Men should be sensitized on the importance of consent especially through upbringing as well as made to understand that a woman’s body is not an entitlement. Collectively, we all should protect those who are most vulnerable, Let’s should join hands and say a big NO TO RAPE.
R. M. Ogosi, MB.BS in view, licensed google writer and contributing writer at WikiMedia Foundation.