Apr 21, 2018

Sexual Assault by Penetration

Section 259 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, provides that;

“Any person who penetrates sexually the anus, vagina, mouth or any other opening in the body of another person with a part of his body or anything else, without the consent of the person is guilty of a felony and liable to imprisonment for life.”

This offence is known as sexual assault by penetration and it means that the following acts are punishable, under that section;

1.      A man (or woman) forcibly penetrating the body of his/her spouse, sexually. This is referred to in some countries as spousal rape.

2.      Forcible sexual penetration of a member of the same gender.

3.      The sexual assault need not involve the genitals, to violate the provisions of this section as penetration with objects, (so long as it done in a sexual manner) is now clearly included.

4.      This offence also covers an unwelcome sexual penetration of the anus, mouth or any other opening in the body of the victim. Anal rape for instance, is now be punishable under this section, in Lagos State.

Please note that this offence is punishable with life imprisonment; same as rape.

It is important to note that as of today, as far as this writer knows, this provision has only been enacted in Lagos State (there is a similar provision in Section 1 of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, 2015, (VAPPA) which defines rape to include all acts included in Section 259 of the Lagos law. But this law is applicable only in Abuja).

In other states, the Criminal Code/Penal Code, provides for rape and defines it to mean the unlawful penile penetration of the vagina, without the real consent of the victim. These laws do not recognise for instance, spousal rape, anal rape or even same gender sexual violence. All these fall under indecent assault which is punishable with three years imprisonment (in the case of a male victim) and two years imprisonment, in the case of a female victim. The punishment for these, in this writer’s opinion, is not enough to serve as punishment or a deterrent, for the commission of these offences. This is so because, penile-vagina rape is punishable with life imprisonment, under the Criminal and Penal Codes. It is therefore inexplicable, that other forms of sexual violence, subject of this discourse, and in which the victim is supposedly in a similar or even worse situation than the victim of penile-vagina rape, carry such a negligible term of years, as punishment.  

One of the applaudable innovations of the VAPPA, is that Section 1(4) thereof provides that a register for convicted sexual offenders shall be maintained and made accessible to the public. This will not only serve to deter the commission of sexual offences, but will also help to protect any prospective victim from falling prey, since background checks can now be done on persons. It will be very beneficial, if this provision can be enacted and implemented by all states of the Federation.

In conclusion, since sexual offences come in different forms, our laws must recognize this and be dynamic, to ensure that justice is served, at every material point in time. It is the writer’s wish that other States begin to amend/alienate their criminal laws, so as to ensure adequate protection for victims of sexual assaults, that adequate punishment is meted out to offenders and to ensure ultimately, the safety of lives and dignity of all, living within their jurisdictions.

 Zeniath Abiri 
Abiri & Mustafa 
Source - LinkedIn