In reality, the Federal Ministry of Justice should have its Office of Public Prosecution fully developed with a functioning Sex Crimes Unit. It will work closely with establishments such as the police; Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, and other related agencies, in order to ensure the investigation and prosecution of all sex crimes, as well as protect victims fully.
The SCU at the OPP should be set up in a way that will enable it work with several specialised private organisations, such as non-governmental organisations, psychological and medical service providers that can offer assistance in the areas of forensic psychological examinations, assessment and counselling for victims.
Why do we need this type of joint effort?
At a time when there is great tension in the country as a result of religious, sectarian and ethnic violence, sexual offences and predatory sexual behaviour appear to be steadily on the increase.
The Nigerian Constitution, in terms of human rights, has existing laws that deal with rape. But these laws need to be enforced logically.
The societal attitude that tends to view males as not really responsible for sexual misconduct towards women generally perceive the victims of rape, who are mostly females, as inherently blame-worthy in terms of participating in alleged forceful carnal knowledge of their bodies, especially when they cannot produce a living witness to the crime.
In this type of environment or society, an offender is certainly going to be encouraged to commit more sexual violence in the face of loose, ambiguous and vague rules on rape, as well as differing positions of the common law, Sharia law or customary law in sexual matters. But one thing that binds all of them is that they look up to the female to prove herself, in terms of righteousness, purity and integrity.
For the sexual offender, this inherent societal misunderstanding tends to support his personality styles with regard to his interaction with females of any kind.
A rapist tends to have weak impulse-control skills and unusual mood disorders. He has conduct disorder (as a child), distorted attitudes and beliefs, in regard to carrying a psychological profile consisting of deviant, bizarre or strange sexual practices.
The OPP will need to train lawyers in all areas of sex crimes, help them understand the importance of setting up the sex offender register, teach them how to follow up on Internet child pornography offences, and on how to be successful in the prosecution of sex crimes.
Certainly, there are cases of false accusation by some ladies, who might be in a present or previous relationship with the offender. This is why it is vital to create a unit that will aggressively separate authentic cases from bad ones, help provide legal representation for a known victim, engage in full investigation, and learn what behavioral questions to ask an alleged sexual offender.
The CSU as a specialised felony prosecution section in the office of public prosecution could be engaged exclusively on the preparation and prosecution of severe crimes of sexual assault, sexual battery and sexual abuse of the child.
Within the unit, there should be a Victim Services Unit with trained staff to assist victims of sexual crimes and to provide their basic needs, as well as financial assistance and protective services.
There is the need to understand the extent of the emotional and psychological trauma suffered by victims of rape. A psychological evaluation, medical assessment and follow up medical treatment, surgical operations and psychotherapy are essential for the victims.
In view of the changing times, it is important to update our sex laws. The government must realise that sexual intercourse without valid consent between the offender and the victim requires no living witnesses, as there is always none and rape is usually committed in private.
Even without penetration, sexually invading a woman’s body in a physical and coercive manner could be described as rape. Of course, marital rape, or spousal rape, ought to be treated as non-consensual sexual offence involving two partners, such as a husband and his wife, boyfriend and girlfriend.
Source- The Punch Newspaper By John Oshodi