16-year-old runaway is ‘attacked by bus conductor’ as full horror of sex assaults emerges

  • Victim endured 45-minute attack while driven around Delhi
  • She was running away from home after being raped by her brother
  • Off-duty conductor, 32, arrested
  • Rape is one of most common crimes against women in India
  • Number of reported rape cases rose by nearly 17% between 2007 and 2011
  • Rape reported every 18 hours in New Delhi
  • Rape victims rarely press charges because of social stigma

article-2255198-16B1D762000005DC-163_634x526A 16-year-old girl has allegedly been raped on a Delhi bus on the same day a 23-year-old woman died after being gang-raped on one of the capital’s buses.

Protests gather momentum as tensions mount at the full scale of the country’s problem in which rape is one of the most common crimes against women with one reported every 18 hours in New Delhi.

The latest victim was the only passenger on the bus when an off-duty conductor allegedly attacked her for 45 minutes as the bus was driven around central Delhi.

The attack echoes that against a 23-year-old student who was cremated yesterday after she died from injuries sustained when she gang-raped on a moving Delhi bus by six men.

The latest attack in India’s ‘rape capital’ will fuel the protests which have gripped the country since the gang-rape on December 16 and the victim’s subsequent death on Saturday.

The 16-year-old girl claims she was raped by an off-duty bus conductor while an on-duty conductor and driver looked on.

The attack is believed to have stopped only when the driver became disorientated by police barricades set up as a result of protests in support of the 23-year-old gang-rape victim, and stopped to ask police directions.

Bangalore pays tribute to Delhi gang-rape victim

Police spotted the traumatised girl in the back and came to her rescue.

The victim boarded the bus at Khayala near Subhash Nagar in west Delhi and was en route to Lajpat Nagar. 

The accused has been identified as Ranjit Singh, 32, a resident of Jhajjar.

He was arrested by the police deployed at the Mandi House picket and later sent to judicial custody.

The transport department has dismissed the accused as well as the driver and conductor.

In a sickening twist, the girl is reported to have been running away from her home in west Delhi after accusing her brother of raping her.

She has now been sent to Prayas, a childcare home in Lajpat Nagar.

The brother of the 23-year-old gang-rape victim cremated on Saturday believes she could have survived but the decision to take her to Singapore for life-saving treatment came too late.

In an interview with the Indian Express today, he also called for the death penalty to be handed down to the perpetrators.

‘The fight has just begun. We want all the accused hanged, and we will fight for that, till the end,’ he said.

The trainee physiotherapist was flown to the Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore four days ago – almost two weeks after she was raped by a gang of six men on a bus in Delhi.

‘She could have been saved perhaps, but the decision came late,’ her brother said, adding: ‘Mount Elizabeth Hospital had very high standards of hygiene. They could have prevented the infection.’

The woman’s body was cremated yesterday after an aircraft chartered by the Indian government brought it back to Delhi from Singapore where she died on Saturday while being treated for severe injuries.

Her horrific ordeal has galvanised Indians to demand greater protection for women from sexual violence with mass demonstrations, candle-lit vigils and street protests with placards, chants and road blocks.

The Indian Congress has put forward plans for chemical castration and 30-year jail terms for all rapists following the attack.

A draft Bill has been put together and will be finalised and handed to India’s chief justice by the end of January.

Meanwhile the victim’s father has described his final conversation with his daughter in the Intensive Care Unit in Safdarjung Hospital, Delhi.

‘She said, “aap so jao, main bhi ab soungi” (you go to sleep, I will also sleep). Then she embraced my hand and slept as a tear dropped from the corner of her eye. Those were her last words to me. Thereafter, she never gained consciousness and didn’t talk to any of us,’ he said.

Her mother was taken to hospital yesterday after collapsing while her daughter was being cremated.

It has also emerged that the planned to marry her boyfriend, who was injured in the same attack, according to her neighbours.

Her brother paid tribute to her and her partner’s bravery in the vicious attack.

‘She was very strong. She always said one should never bear atrocities but fight against it. While she was admitted in hospital, she told me that she fought back as hard as she could. She was defending herself by beating and biting them.

‘She thrashed them and kicked them too. They were boiling in anger by her defence so they decided to kill her. She told me that they were murmuring ‘maar do ise’ (kill her). They threw her considering she was dead.

‘The boy was equally courageous like my sister. She told me that he guarded her until he became unconscious.’

The girl and her boyfriend had spent the evening watching The Life of Pi at a multiplex in the Saket district of Delhi when they were attacked on the bus home on December 16. 

It is thought he defended his girlfriend after she was initially verbally abused by a group of six men.

They were then imprisoned on the bus by a gang for around an hour as it was driven around Delhi.

Their brutal assaults were hidden from view by the closed curtains on the bus. 

She was also abused with a rod, which left her with horrific internal injuries. The pair were eventually hurled naked from the vehicle as it was still moving.

They had made all the wedding preparations and had planned a wedding party in Delhi,’ a neighbour told NDTV.

‘We know that she was going to get married in February,’ she said. ‘The whole neighbourhood was excited about it.’

Today’s private ceremony took place with Indian riot policemen standing guard outside the cremation centre in New Delhi.

Fearing the unrest amidst the public anger, the location and timing of the cremation was not disclosed, but it was held soon after the arrival of her body from Singapore on a special Air-India flight.

Her distraught mother collapsed and was admitted to Safdarjung Hospital after her daughter’s body was taken away.

Premier Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, head of the ruling Congress party, were at the airport to receive the body and meet family members of the victim who had also arrived on the flight.


After the body arrived at the airport, it was taken to the woman’s home in New Delhi for religious rituals before being escorted by police to the crematorium.

Security was tight, with no access to the public or media at the crematorium.

Sheila Dikshit, the senior elected leader of New Delhi, and junior home minister R.P.N. Singh placed wreaths beside the body before it was cremated.

Details about the girl’s identity have not been released to protect the family.

But The Hindustan Times newspaper described her as a dedicated student who tutored neighbours’ children to boost her family’s income

The parents had sold a plot of land nearby as well as land in their village in Ballia district of eastern Uttar Pradesh to fund their daughter’s education.

‘Now her elder brother, who is preparing for his engineering entrance exams, has no hope to continue his studies. The family had depended on her future career to see them out of their poverty,’ a neighbour called Vimla told IANS. 

Indian police have charged six men with murder in the December 16 attack, which shocked the country and triggered protests for greater protection for women from sexual violence.

The six suspects face the death penalty if convicted, in a case that has triggered protests across India and raised questions about lax attitudes by police toward sexual crimes.
Source- MailOnline

20-year-old girl raped, lip slashed off by attackers (Nigeria)

ruth simonIt was double tragedy for Ruth Simon, a 20-year-old girl who was raped and had part of her lower lip chopped off by her attackers. Ruth, who said the incident happened close to her house in Jenta Adamu area of Jos, explained that on the said day while she was returning home, she was accosted by two men suspected to be residing in the area.

She said when they stopped her and started making overtures to her, she pleaded that they should let her go. But before she could get away, they grabbed and pinned her to the ground and one of them covered her mouth with his palm to prevent her from shouting while they began undressing her.

Ruth, who said she was a housemaid at the West of Mines area of Jos said she was still struggling and shouting for help as they were undressing when one of them brought out a knife and chopped off part of her lower lip.

She was wailing in pains when two of them, one after the other had sex with her and abandoned her at the spot afterwards. She later reported the incident at the ‘A’ Division Police Station and through the description she gave, one of her attackers, John Akwara, a welder was arrested, while the other man whose name was given as Ezra Dachalon was still at large. However, this had not solved her problem because Ruth had been unable to get adequate medical attention after the incident.

Her only sibling, Adigizi Simon, an OND holder of Plateau Polytechnic said that since the incident occurred, he had been solely responsible for his sister’s treatment. He said he was yet to get a job and had been depending on handouts from well wishers to get treatment for his sister. Adigizi said they were natives of Nasarawa Eggon in Nasarawa State.Their father is dead while their mother works as a cleaner at the Police Children’s School in Jos. “It was because she could not afford to send both of us to school that Ruth is working as a housemaid,” Adigizi said. “Since the incident occurred, I have been unable to do anything for myself. I took her to a clinic where the lip was stitched but after some days, the stitches were removed because it developed some infections and pus was coming out of it.

Based on what people prescribed, I have been buying medicine for her to take to kill the pains. “The other boy they say is still at large lives in our area but his father is hiding him in the house. We have no means to bring in the police to arrest him when we spot him in the neighborhood  We want the police to arrest his father because we believe if they do that, the boy will turn himself to the police.”

He said Ruth was examined after she was raped and was told she was not infected with HIV but they could not ascertain what could happen to her later. Adigizi maintained that he could not take his younger sister to a bigger hospital for treatment due to lack of fund. Meanwhile, Ruth who can no longer go to her place of work is often seen covering her mouth with a piece of rag, hoping that help would come her way, even as she urgently needs plastic surgery to put her lip back in shape.

From India to Nigeria, rape is rape, but still the law is lax and does very little to prosecute the perpetrators of these heinous crimes, rape is bad enough, but why do they disfigure and mutilate the victims, or is this some sick sexual thing for them, the authorities cannot pretend they are not aware of these cases, but they fold their arms and sit on the side lines, waiting for the whole story to die out, but we will continue to push for laws on rape, to be particular and precise, and we believe this will act as a deterrent for the evil doers who sit in the shadows and attack innocent individuals just to satisfy their animal lusts. 

Its high time the victims of rape and other forms of sexual and domestic abuse are given the judgment they deserve, instead of being punished for crime meted out on them.

Protests continue as Delhi gang-rape victim is cremated


The young woman who died after being gang-raped and beaten on a bus in India was cremated today amid an outpouring of anger and grief across the country by millions of people demanding greater protection for women from sexual violence.

The cremation took place during a private ceremony in Delhi soon after the 23-year-old woman’s body arrived in the capital on a special Air India flight from Singapore, where she died at a hospital on Saturday after being sent for medical treatment.

The tragedy has forced India to confront the reality that female victims of sexual assault are often blamed for the crime, which forces them to keep quiet and discourages them from going to authorities for fear of exposing their families to ridicule. Police often refuse to accept complaints from rape victims, and the rare prosecutions that reach courts can drag on for years.

The Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, and Sonia Gandhi, head of the ruling Congress Party, were at the airport to receive the body and meet relatives of the victim who were on the flight. Security was tight, with no access to the public or media at the crematorium.

The victim, whose identity has been withheld to protect her family, was attacked with her fiancé after they boarded a bus in South Delhi’s upmarket Saket neighbourhood as they returned from a cinema trip on 16 December. She was raped repeatedly by six men as the bus cruised the capital’s streets. Their brutal assaults were allegedly hidden from view because the bus had tinted windows and closed curtains.

The trainee physiotherapist was also beaten with an iron rod which doctors believe caused the internal injuries that led to her death. She endured three operations, including one to remove 95 per cent of her intestines, and suffered a heart attack before she was airlifted to Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital last Thursday.

Soon after her death on Saturday, police charged six men with murder. A spokesman, Rajan Bhagat, said all of the suspects faced the death penalty if convicted. The case has triggered protests throughout India and raised questions about lax attitudes by police towards sexual crimes. Thousands of Indians lit candles, held prayer meetings and marched through cities and towns, including Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata, on Saturday night to express their grief and demand stronger protection for women and the death penalty for rape.

Yesterday, dozens of protesters tried to break through a police cordon and march to the parliament building in the capital, but were pushed back. The protesters, mainly from the student wing of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, shouted anti-government slogans. Hundreds of police sealed off the high-security area where the seat of government is located, in anticipation of more protests.

But even as thousands mourned the rape victim, in a sign of how pervasive such crimes are police in West Bengal were investigating another suspected gang rape and death.

The family of a woman said she and her husband were attacked as they returned home from work at a brick factory, and that six men dragged the woman into a farm after pouring acid into her husband’s mouth.

The woman was found dead with multiple injuries and police detained four men for questioning.

Source- The Independent

Woman gang raped, murdered in West Bengal

IMG_6063 A middle-aged woman was allegedly gang raped and murdered in West Bengal while a minor girl in Gujarat was gang raped which led her to attempt suicide. 
As the outrage over the death of the 23-year-old gang-rape victim in Delhi continued, there was a spurt in number of reported sexual assault cases in Punjab with many alleged victims coming forward with their complaints.

A man and his son were arrested for allegedly raping his teenaged daughter in Dombivili township of Thane district in Maharashtra while a 15-year-old dalit girl was allegedly raped and held captive for 15 days by three men in Dharauli village in Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh.

The two village officials were arrested in connection with two rape incidents in Andhra Pradesh and Chattisgarh.

In the incident at Jagannathpur in West Bengal’s North 24-Parganas district, police said the woman’s son, Alafaz Ali, had filed an FIR last night at Barasat police station stating that his mother was gang-raped and murdered and his father was poisoned and seriously injured.

Additional superintendent of police Bhaskar Mukherjee said the body of the 45-year old woman was found near a brick kiln last evening bearing sharp wounds on the head.

The incident occured when the woman went to look for her husband, a brick-kiln worker last evening. Six persons allegedly assaulted her, Mukherjee said.

Meanwhile, her husband returned home and went to look for his wife when he heard her cry for help and was in turn assaulted and forcibly made to consume some poisonous substance, he said.

The victim and her husband were rushed to Barasat State General hospital where the woman died

Police arrested one person today and detained eight others for interrogation.

In Gujarat, a minor gang rape victim allegedly attempted suicide by consuming poison at her residence today, police said. The 14-year-old girl’s condition is critical and she has been put on ventilator, they said.

Police said the minor was kidnapped in a car from Dholka town in Ahmedabad district and raped by two persons on December 6, following which her family members registered FIR on December 14.

It doesn’t seem to be getting better.

How Do We Stop Domestic Violence In Nigeria, When There Are No Laws Preventing it

c8d19b9408279dc4According to Nigeria’s Demographic and Health Survey 2008 (NDHS), of 21,468 women surveyed about domestic violence, 28 percent reported ever experiencing physical violence since the age of 15 years; 15 percent had experienced violence within the previous twelve months (Nigeria Nov. 2008, 262). However, the NDHS report also states that collecting information about domestic violence “is challenging because many women may not disclose their experiences out of shame or fear” (ibid., 261). The report further states that interviewers were provided training on gender-based violence to help them collect survey information (ibid.).

Sources indicate that domestic violence is “pervasive” in the country (AI 2010, 248; Antai and Antai 25 Sept. 2008; UN 8 July 2008, Para. 326; Daily Independent 21 Apr. 2010; US 11 Mar. 2010, Sec 6). According to a journal article written by Hadiza Iza Bazza, a researcher from Nigeria’s University of Maiduguri, available information suggests that domestic violence “has reached alarming proportions” (2009, 178). According to a report produced by the Nigerian NGO Coalition on CEDAW, a collective of numerous Nigerian non-governmental organizations (NGOs):

Domestic violence is endemic in Nigeria as many of the NGOs who contributed to this report can attest, as they see high numbers of battered women on a daily basis. (Apr. 2008, 69)

In contrast, the Embassy of Nigeria website in the Netherlands states that “there is no credibility” to the assertion that domestic violence is prevalent in Nigeria (Nigeria n.d.).


There is no national law specifically addressing violence against women in Nigeria (Bazza 2009, 184; UN 8 July 2008, Para. 326; US 11 Mar. 2010, Sec. 6).

Nigeria ratified the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1985 (UN n.d.). However, according to Section 12 of the Nigerian Constitution, international treaties can only be enforced once a corresponding domestic law has been enacted by Parliament (Nigeria 1999, Subsection 12 (1)). Such domestic legislation was drafted in 2005 (UN 8 July 2008, Para. 314), but, as of February 2010, has not been passed into law (ibid.; This Day 4 Feb. 2010; AI 2010, 248).

In addition, a bill addressing violence against women has been pending before the Nigerian Parliament since 2003 (UN 8 July 2008, Para. 326; Open Democracy 26 Nov. 2007).

Amnesty International (AI) indicates that several of Nigeria’s states have adopted legislation addressing discrimination and violence against women; the report did not specify the names of these states (2010, 248). Further information regarding the provisions of these state laws as well as information their implementation was not found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

In a report submitted to the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council, the government of Nigeria stated that it was unnecessary to have a law that specifically addresses violence against women since “[a]ssault and battery have been made subject of both civil and criminal laws, with the criminal aspects attracting very stiff and severe penalties” (Nigeria 5 Jan. 2009, Para. 79). According to Section 360 of the Nigerian Criminal Code:

[a]ny person who unlawfully and indecently assaults a woman or girl is guilty of a misdemeanour, and is liable to imprisonment for two years (Nigeria 1990, Sec. 360)

The unlawful and indecent assault of a “male person” is a felony and is punishable by three years in prison, according to Section 353 of the Criminal Code (ibid., Sec. 353).

In addition, Section 55 of the Penal Code, which governs Nigeria’s northern states, allows husbands to “correct” their wives using physical punishment, so long as the woman is not seriously harmed (Tribune 4 June 2010; UN 8 July 2008, Para. 316; Bazza 2009, 185). According to the Bazza article, Paragraph 55 (1)(d) of the Penal Code states:

nothing is an offence which does not amount to infliction of grievous hurt upon any person and which is done by …(d) a husband for the purpose of correcting his wife such husband and wife being subject to any routine law or custom on which such correction is recognized as lawful. (2009, 185)

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2009 states that grievous harm refers to “loss of sight, hearing, speech, facial disfigurement, or life-threatening injuries” (US 11 Mar. 2010, Sec. 6). This information is corroborated by a media article which provides further details (Vanguard 10 Dec. 2009). An article published in theJournal of International Women’s Studies also states that, according to the Nigerian Penal Code, women may be struck by their husbands with a stick, so long as it is not thicker than the man’s thumb (Ozo-Eson May 2008, 294). Corroborating information regarding this provision could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

According to the UN report there is no national strategy or program to address violence against women (8 July 2008, Para. 326).

Social views of domestic violence

Several sources state that domestic violence is often viewed as socially acceptable (US 11 Mar. 2010, Sec. 6; Bazza 2009, 176; Ozo-Eson May 2008, 292). A human rights lawyer is quoted in a newspaper article as saying that in Nigeria, violence against women is considered to be justifiable under religious and customary practices (This Day9 Dec. 2009). For example, the aforementioned Bazza article states that domestic violence is “celebrated” by the Efick ethnic group, who reside in the South South zone, as an indication of a husband’s authority over his wife (Bazza 2009, 179).

Police response

Country Reports 2009 states that generally police do not become involved in disputes involving domestic violence (US 11 Mar. 2010, Sec. 6). Similarly, according to a journal article written by Philomena I. Ozo-Eson, a senior lecturer at the University of Abuja, domestic violence is “usually dismissed by the police and the entire legal system as a family matter” (May 2008, 292). This information is corroborated by a Nigeria Daily News commentary, which states that women experiencing domestic violence do not go to the police because domestic violence is considered a “private affair between husband and wife” (2 June 2010). An article published in the journal Rural and Remote Health states that rural police officers have “patriarchal” attitudes which make them ineffective in addressing domestic violence (Antai and Antai 25 Sept. 2008). The Nigeria Daily News commentary put forth the view that the police only address extreme cases of domestic violence – those that lead to death or disability (2 June 2010).

In 2008, a Nigerian government representative told a UN committee that human rights desks have been established in all police stations “in order to protect women” from violence (UN 6 Aug. 2008, Para. 3). A report produced by the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Front Line corroborates that human rights desks have been created, but states that they have not been established in all police stations (The Observatory/Frontline Apr. 2010, 18). The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders is a joint program of the World Organization against Torture (OMCT, Organisation mondiale contre la torture) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH, Fédération internationale des ligues des droits de l’homme) (ibid., 3). Front Line is the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a Dublin-based human rights organization (ibid.).

A UN report indicates that desk officers have not been trained in how to address issues affecting women (6 Aug. 2008, Para.10). The Observatory/Front Line report states that the desks address issues related to police abuse and police custody, adding that they are “highly inefficient and corrupt,” according to human rights defenders (Apr. 2010, 18).


Country Reports 2009 states that courts and police in rural areas generally do not respond to protect women who formally complain of domestic violence if the violence is considered to be within cultural norms (US 11 Mar. 2010, Sec. 6). The Bazza article states that it is often difficult for women who experience abuse to obtain justice (2009, 175). A commentary published in a Nigerian newspaper expresses the view that the “justice system is not victim-friendly,” adding that the particular needs of women experiencing domestic violence are not taken into account by the legal system (Vanguard 10 Dec. 2009). Similarly, another newspaper article indicates that the Nigerian justice system is “unnecessarily slow” (Daily Independent 21 Apr. 2010).

Services for victims

According to a UN report, most services for victims of domestic violence, including shelters, are provided by NGOs in Nigeria (UN 8 July 2008, Para. 326). The report states that support for these NGOs from Nigeria’s national government is limited (ibid.). This information is corroborated by a report produced by the Nigeria NGO Coalition on CEDAW that indicates that NGOs provide training and support services “without support” from government (Apr. 2008, 11).

Project Alert is an NGO that provides counselling services and legal aid to women who have been victims of violence (Project Alert n.d.). In 2001, the NGO established a shelter that has provided accommodation to more than 580 women or girls (ibid.). The House of Mercy (HOMI) Rehab Centre, which is run by Christian missionaries, provides shelter for women who have experienced domestic violence (Angya 9 Sept. 2008, 7-9). Women can remain in the shelter for up to a year or more until they find more permanent housing (ibid., 8). Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA) Nigeria is an NGO that provides legal aid and counselling to women (WRAPA n.d.). BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights is an NGO that does outreach activities and advocacy pertaining to the rights of women (BAOBAB n.d.).

According to the national survey, of women who sought help to address domestic violence, 65 percent turned to their family for assistance (Nigeria Nov. 2008, 284). A further 31 percent looked to their in-laws for help; and 17 percent went to a friend or neighbour (ibid.). Fewer than 1 percent went to a social service agency, 2 percent went to the police and 3 percent sought help from a religious leader (ibid.).

In addition, the UN report indicates that the government has addressed domestic violence with some training programs and awareness-raising activities (UN 8 July 2008, Para. 326).


Amnesty International (AI). 2010. “Nigeria.” Amnesty International Report 2010. <http://thereport.amnesty.org&gt;

Angya, Charity A. 9 September 2008. “Shelters and Faith Based Organizations in Nigeria: Mitigating the Effects of Violence Against Women.” <http://www.womensshelter.ca/presentations/121/Angya__History_of_ Shelters_in_Nigeria

Daily Independent [Lagos]. 21 April 2010. Stella Odueme. “Nigeria: Legislating Against Domestic Violence.” (AllAfrica) <http://allafrica.com/stories/201004220696.html&gt;


Gender-based Violence in Nigeria #16Days – A case for the criminalization of marital/spousal rape


I came across this article and decided to share it, this article goes along way in exposing the mind set of most Nigerian men, and its a bit scary.
16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence

In the past three days I have had cause to be scared for Nigerian women. I had long online debates with at least 30 young Nigerian (married and unmarried) men from different professions: lawyers, engineers, civil servants, teachers on the issue of marital rape. It has taken me a while to get over the shock of some of what I heard to write this article debunking the popular myths surrounding marital rape.

One does not need to have experienced rape to understand the seriousness of rape as a crime. Its highly intrusive, sometimes violent nature makes it capable of deep, lasting damage- more so than many other violent crimes. Often, the perpetrator of rape, (some put the frequency at as high as 90% of the time) is known to the victim- a neighbor, friend, uncle, cousin, husband, teacher, pastor, ex-partner. Rape takes on a new dimension when the victim is raped by someone close- then it even becomes harder to report. [Please note that while rape and sexual violence also happens to men, the focus of this article is marital rape as perpetrated by men]
In the case of marriage, Nigeria law and society has left nowhere for a victim of rape to turn. Our law, by its sad silence implies that a man, cannot commit the offence of rape with his wife. Even worse, many men in our society seem to reinforce this sorry state of the law by their statements and actions. A man said to me a few days ago: Why would a woman whose dowry I paid refuse to give me sex when I demand it?
Section 282 of the Penal Code, governing the North of Nigeria and Section 357 of the Criminal Code, governing the South, both exempt a husband from the definition of the offence of rape. This position of the law is based on the legal theory as expressed by English Judge Sir Matthew Hale in 1680 in The History of the Pleas of the Crown that “by their mutual matrimonial consent and contract the wife hath given herself in this kind unto the husband which she cannot retract.” In other words, a wife has by marriage sold herself into sexual slavery and does not have the right to say no.
I can understand how an English judge in the 1600’s would make this statement. But I cannot understand how an educated man in 2012 would repeat and justify it.
Marriage is a relationship of trust- perhaps the deepest level of the expression of trust known to humans. Sexual violence by a person to whom such trust has been given is probably the highest level of breach of that trust. This can be hard to report or otherwise handle. Whereas rape by a stranger may happen once, the victim of marital rape is likely to fear that this will keep happening. I do not need to explain how the anticipation of sexual violence from one with whom you share a bed can be traumatic.
One reason for a husband’s legal and social immunity from rape is our cultural attitude toward women in general. A man is viewed as master over a woman- a position reinforced by culture, religion and even law. I have never been able to get over the shock of Section 55 (1) (d) of the Penal Code which states that “nothing is an offence which does not amount to the infliction of grievous hurt upon any person and which is done by a husband for the purpose of correcting his wife, such husband or wife being subject to any native law or custom in which such correction is recognized as lawful”. This section places women in the same category as children receiving corporal punishment.
There are two grave implications of this section. One, that it permits the husband to beat his wife or otherwise “correct” her as long as he does not injure her. Two, it upholds any native custom that allows such beating or other violence against women. Thus a man, if he considers rape to be a corrective tool for her say, denying him sex may lawfully do so under the law.
A lot of the problem surrounding marital rape also comes from a skewed understanding of what rape and marriage is. I will attempt to make comments on some of these misconceptions as gathered from conversations I have had with Nigerian men in the past few days
1.       Marriage entitles me to sex. It is my right to demand sex from my wife and as part of her duties she must make the sacrifice and satisfy me when and how I want.
The basis of this unfortunate myth seems to be the idea that a man is superior to a woman. It becomes easier to justify this when a man believes that a woman is a lesser partner in a marital relationship. A man who sees his wife as an equal partner and friend will not turn violent when his wife is tired or otherwise unable to engage in sexual intercourse at a particular time. A loving, caring partner will likely not need to demand sex in the first place.
2.       Forcing my wife to have sex is not rape. I am only taking what is lawfully mine.
Rape is any non-consensual sexual intercourse. I would go ahead to state that I think that it should include not just non-consensual vaginal penetration as the law currently provides but non-consensual oral and anal sex and the penetration of the vagina or anal cavity using objects including but not limited to hands or fingers. Rape is not about sex or love. It is about power, domination and violence. Just like consensual sex can be an expression of love in a marriage, rape is an expression of violent domination. The rapist is not just “taking” sex. Such a person is inflicting both physical and psychological harm on the victim. Rape has nothing to do with pleasure or enjoyment. It is a crime. Even where there is no struggle because a victim already feels overpowered mentally or physically, it is still rape. What makes it a rape is the forced and/or non-consensual nature of the sex.
3.      Marital rape is a Eurocentric or Western Idea. It is unAfrican.
Marital rape should be seen as what it is. Rape. Sexual violence. It is not African. It is barbaric and does not belong in any human culture. Even if it is condoned by some of our cultures, it is our place to end those cultures. To use the legal cliché , any culture that is “repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience” should be discarded in favor of one that shows respect and dignity to all persons regardless of gender, circumstances of birth, or other differences. We must remember also that culture is fluid. It is not immutable but is a reflection of the ideals of a people over time. Our culture must reflect sane ideals, not practices that make slaves of women.
Sex in marriage should be enjoyed by both parties. It should not be a chore for one party. Healthy sexual relations should be where both parties provide intimacy and pleasure without discomfort, fear or coercion. Where a wife is forced against her will to engage in sex or certain sexual acts, the law should be able to protect her. No contract, marital or otherwise should allow one person to inflict violence on another.
Our legislature must step up and expunge embarrassing provisions in our laws that allow men to legally inflict violence on their wives. Our law must protect vulnerable groups (and minorities) instead of legalizing their oppression.I must end by saying that I am a Nigerian man. I believe in the equality of man and woman. I believe in the right of a woman to be in control of her own body. I believe in the right of a woman to say no when she does not want sex. I believe in the right of a woman to withdraw the consent she has given at anytime. And I believe there are many other men, like me.