Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Nigeria's soaring cases of paedophilia

I am worried, very worried about the soaring cases of rape in Nigeria. If something is not done and very fast too, we may end up being the country with the highest number of rape cases in the world. There are different categories of rape.  Dr. Wilson in an article simply titled, Rape (  tried to categorise them into Forcible rape, which is any forced sexual intercourse between two adults; Statutory rape, which is sexual intercourse between an adult and a minor (that is someone below 18 years of age); Incest, which is sexual relations or marriage between two people who are forbidden to marry by customs or law; Random or haphazard rape which is rape through a random encounter with someone who is intoxicated with liquor or on drugs or just psychopathic; and  Professional rape which is explained to be carried out by professionals, either alone or in a gang.  “These are used to condition people for brainwashing, for political reasons, to inculcate ideas, or as part of a culture or religion”. All these different categories are present in Nigeria.

The most heart rending to me of all these categories is the rape of minors otherwise called pedophilia. Wikipedia says “Pedophilia or paedophilia is a psychiatric disorder in which an adult or older adolescent experiences a primary or exclusive sexual attraction to prepubescent children, generally age 11 years or younger.”  According to Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders, “Pedophilia is also a psychosexual disorder in which the fantasy or actual act of engaging in sexual activity with prepubertal children is the preferred or exclusive means of achieving sexual excitement and gratification. It may be directed toward children of the same sex or children of the other sex. Some pedophiles are attracted to both boys and girls. Some are attracted only to children, while others are attracted to adults as well as to children.”

In the last one week, there have been media reports of two acts of pedophilia. The first, reported in The Punch of September 3, 2015, was that of a 34-year-old factory worker, Mohammed Ahmed, who admitted raping his daughter six times. Ahmed, who was paraded by officials of the Osun State Command of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps said he started having sex with his 14-year-old daughter (name withheld) in April, 2015. He has been remanded at Ilesa prison while he is undergoing prosecution.  The same newspaper in its September 7, 2015 edition also reported the case of a 41-year-old father, Emeka Igwe of Federal Housing Estate, Meiran, Ojokoro, Lagos State  who has also been raping her seven year old daughter and has  gotten  her addicted to masturbation.

The Director of Project Alert, Mrs. Josephine Effah-Chukwuma whose NGO is prosecuting the Emeka Igwe’s case said: “….we are having an epidemic in our hand. Hardly a week goes by without us having cases of children between the ages of three to seven being defiled.” Sad, very sad indeed! 

Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders says “Most experts regard pedophilia as resulting from psychosocial factors rather than biological characteristics. Some think that pedophilia is the result of having been sexually abused as a child. Still others think that it derives from the person's interactions with parents during their early years of life. Some researchers attribute pedophilia to arrested emotional development; that is, the pedophile is attracted to children because he or she has never matured psychologically. Some regard pedophilia as the result of a distorted need to dominate a sexual partner. Since children are smaller and usually weaker than adults, they may be regarded as nonthreatening potential partners. This drive for domination is sometimes thought to explain why most pedophiles are males.”

Under Nigerian jurisprudence, particularly the Criminal Code of Nigeria, Rape is defined, as having 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 threats or intimidation of any kind, or by fear of harm, or by means of false act, or, in case of a married woman, be personating her husband. This offence is punishable by imprisonment for life, with or without caning.  (See Section 357 and 358 of the Criminal Code Cap “C38”, Laws of the Federation, 2004)

 In plain language, in Nigeria, a person has committed rape when he has sexual relations (carnal knowledge) with a woman against her will; or

 a)      without her consent or,

 b)      while putting her in fear of death or hurt or,

 c)      misrepresenting as the husband of the woman or,

 d)     having carnal knowledge of a girl under 14 years, with or without her consent or,

 e)      having carnal knowledge of a girl with unsound mind.

 The one under discourse here is that of subsection (d) which has to do with having carnal knowledge a girl under 14 years of age irrespective of whether she gives her consent or not. The Penal Code (applicable in Northern part of Nigeria), goes further to say even where the girl is a wife of the person, such person will be guilty of rape if she has not attained puberty.

In a decided case of Edwin Ezigbo v. The State (2012) 16 NWLR Pt 1326, My Lord Justice Muhammed J.S.C had this to say; “the facts revealed in this appeal are sordid and can lead to a conclusion that a man can turn into a barbaric animal. When the “criminal” was alleged to have committed the offence of rape, he was 32 years. His two young victims: Ogechi Kelechi, 8 years old and Chioma, 6 years, were, by all standard underage. What did the appellant want to get out of these underage girls. Perhaps, the appellant forgot that by nature, children, generally, are like animals. They follow anyone who offers them food. That was why the appellant, tactfully, induced the young girls with ice cream and zobo drinks in order to translate his hidden criminal intention to reality, damning the consequences. Honestly, for an adult man like the appellant to have carnal knowledge of underage girls such as the appellant’s victims is very callous and animalistic. It is against the laws of all human beings and it is against God and the State. Such small girls and indeed all females of whatever age need to be protected against callous acts of criminally likeminded people of the appellant’s class…..”

On Wednesday, June 3, 2015, the Senate passed the Sexual Offences Bill, 2015 which prescribes life imprisonment for rapists and those who have sexual intercourse with children under 11 years. The passage of the bill followed the report of the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.  Senator Chris Anyawu from Imo State who was the main sponsor of the bill listed some of the sexual offences captured by the bill to include gang rape, lacing drinks with drugs with intent to sexually abuse, deliberately infecting partner with HIV and other diseases.  Others, according to her, include child sex tourism, sexual harassment and prostitution of persons with mental disabilities.

 She said the bill had mandated the storing of names of sexual offenders in database for institutional and social discrimination. “Culprits would never be employed in any institution where they may pose a risk to unsuspecting persons. You can see that the penalties are weighty,” she opined. She also said convicted offenders would be subjected to compulsory medical examination, while “those that, however, bring false sexual allegation against any person will also be liable for punishment.’’

In an opinion article I did on this issue of rape published in The PUNCH of November 27, 2013 entitled “Let’s castrate the rapists” I observed that:  “The rape syndrome has been gaining ascendancy due to a number of factors among which are the refusal of many of the victims to lodge complaints with law enforcement agencies (some victims would not even tell their family members or friends for fear of stigmatisation); lack of diligent prosecution by police; difficulty in proving the crime of rape; and light punishment meted out to perpetrators of rape.”  The most troubling about the act of pedophiles, the animals in human skin, is that they are usually enemies within. They are sometimes teachers of the pupils they rape, uncles, brothers, neighbours and house helps to whom we entrust the care of our children.

 The effects of rape are no less harrowing. The victims often go into trauma, depression and become suicidal. They risk Sexually Transmitted Diseases including HIV/AIDs. At times, unwanted pregnancy becomes the testimony of the illicit act. In the process of procuring abortion, which in itself is illegal in Nigeria, victims may lose their lives. Rape therefore oftentimes makes their victims maladjusted, paranoid and skeptical of even genuine love.

As a way of curbing the incidence of pedophiles, the editorial of The PUNCH of November 5, 2013 is very apt.  “To stem the tide, women affairs and social welfare departments at the federal, state and local government levels have to start enlightenment campaigns to alert parents and their children to this crime and how to avoid being violated. Parents also have to spend more time with their children, be closer to them and teach them about sex education early in life”. I maintained my stance of 2013 that the expeditious way to send the right warning signal to perpetrators of rape is to simply castrate them, once they are found guilty. This way, they will be perpetually incarcerated.

Jide is the Executive Director of OJA Development Consult, Abuja. Follow me on twitter @jideojong