The Psychological Impart Of Sexual Abuse – With Barr. Mary Adeyemo

This is a virtual master class host by Dr. Oreoluwa Aderemiola and Guest Barr. Marry Adeyemo. The virtual master class happens to be a one of a kind live section I’ve ever witnessed online.

The Moderator of this great virtual master class is Zoemediang

I will be bringing a full note of how the virtual class went.

Que: As today’s topic is all about sexual abuse, Barr Mary can you tell us what the constitution defines the terms around sexual abuse as?

Ans: I must say that there is no express definition of what sexual abuse is as defined in the constitution. However, we will look into some legal terminology and definition.

Sexual assault can be basically defined as a forced sexual advancement (verbally or physically) from one party (abuser) on another (victim). It is any form of a sexual act performed by one person on another without consent. Sexual assault includes genital, oral, or anal penetration by a part of the accused’s body or by an object, verbal harassment, etc. It may result from force, the threat of force either on the victim or another person, or the victim’s inability to give due consent. It involves coercion and it is often without the consent of the other party (victim). The keyword to note in the definition is “coercion” which is the force in different forms and shapes. Coercion here may be physical, psychological, or positional (it may be in the form of blackmail. In certain instances, the coercion may come in forms of when the victim is under the influence of hard drinks or drugs.

Que: What are the laws binding sexual abuse? Barr Mary

Ans: There are a variety of laws that provides for sexual abuse

However, I want us to consider the following basic definition before exploring the laws

Below are basic definitions of some sexual assault:

Statutory Rape refers to sexual intercourse with a female under an age specified by state law (ranging from 16-18 years of age); the consent of an adolescent younger than this age is legally irrelevant because she is defined as being incapable of consenting.

Child sexual abuse refers to the contact or interaction between a child. defined by most states as younger than 14 years, and an adult when the child is being used for the sexual stimulation of that adult or another person.
[the Marital Rape is defined as forced coitus or related sexual acts within a marital relationship without the consent of a partner.

I must say again that this is non-existent in Nigeria. Our law does not recognize spousal or marital rape. Couples married under the law are seen as one entity and not two.
Except, the spouse comes under domestic violence.
Acquaintance Rape refers to those sexual assaults committed by someone known to the victim. More than 75% of adolescent rapes are committed by an acquaintance of the victim. When the acquaintance is a family member, including step-relatives and parental figures living in the home, the sexual assault is referred to as incest.

Date Rape is when forced or unwanted sexual activity occurs in the context of a dating relationship.
The issue of sexual consent has been a topic in recent times with every individual crafting a definition that suits their ideology and fuels their behavior. Consent, as defined by the Oxford dictionary, means permission to do something, especially given by someone in authority hence Sexual consent means agreeing (or giving permission) to participate in sexual activity. For the purpose of this discussion, we shall take Consent to be Sexual Consent. Consent is the giving of permission of access to one’s body for sexual pleasure (or any other reason) by an individual to another individual or group of people. It involves an agreement by two partners who are of age to engage each other sexually to the extent they both agree to. The withdraw of consent by one of the parties should immediately abort the sexual activity even if it was already an ongoing event. It is important that each party explains their action and extent to the other party before going ahead.

For example, two adults decide to meet over at one of their apartments. If one of the two has the intention of engaging sexually, it should be communicated to the other person before commencing. Conversations like “I will like to kiss you, can I go ahead?” The other person must verbally give a consent agreement. You don’t assume me. Consent is verbal and must be given willingly. The presence of coercion nullifies the agreement. The consenting individual must be above 18 and not under any influence of a substance that can alter consciousness or reasoning like Alcohol, drugs, etc. Also, the sexual activities must solely be what was agreed upon and not your own assumption of what the person wants or expects.

The harsh reality rather is that victims are often blamed for having encouraged the assault by their behavior or dress, for not sufficiently resisting the assault, for being promiscuous, or for having ulterior motives for pressing charges. This misplaced culpability is often internalized by the victims, which (in addition to fear of retribution) may explain their reluctance to report the violent crime to the authorities.

Another common misperception is that rape is an impulsive or aggressive extension of normal sex drive on the part of the rapist. The motivation for most sexual assault, however, seems not to be sexual gratification but rather a degradation, terrorization, and humiliation of the victim. The assault is often a demonstration of power {power rape), anger {anger rape), or sadism manifested in ritualized torture or mutilation of the victim (sadistic rape) on the part of the rapist.
It is noteworthy to state that sexual assault is a broad topic, however, I have used rape as an example to illustrate sexual abuse

Other examples of sexual abuse will include defilement (which I will discuss later)

Ques: What are the statistics we have about sexual assault/Rape in Nigeria? Barr Adeyemo

Ans: Thank you Mr. Moderator.

Sexual Assaults are severely under-reported crime around the world with surveys showing dark figures of up to 92% of rapes going unreported. According to a UNICEF report in 2015, one in four girls and one in ten boys in Nigeria had experienced sexual violence before age 18. In another report conducted in 2018 by the Women at Risk Foundation (WARIF) claimed that her statistics showed that 10,000 women are sexually assaulted daily. The prevalent reason for not reporting sexual assault differs across countries but cultural and religious beliefs have concocted misconceptions and encouraged sexual assault, thereby enabling the act, increasing the incidences, silencing the victims albeit unintentionally.

Indeed no one is has a special immunity from the abuse.

We see it daily and perper-second, non-verbally, physically, psychologically in different forms and shapes. in fact, we different innovations per time.

Que: Barr Adeyemo… What are the laws binding sexual assault?

Answ:  Thank you, once again Mr. Moderator

It is noteworthy to state that there is a plethora of legal framework that protects victims or intending victims of sexual assault or violence in Nigeria. Some of the laws that protect the rights of individuals against sexual assaults and violence in Nigeria include but are not limited to:

1. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended (the “Constitution”);
2. The Criminal Code Act;
3. The Penal Code Act;
4. The Violence Against Person’s Prohibition Act, 2015 (the “VAPPA”);
5. The Child Rights Act, 2003 as well as the Child Right Laws of various States; and
6. The Cyber Crime Act, 2015; and.

Like, I earlier stated, that the constitution is just one of the many laws we have in Nigeria. Although, most people loosely refer to laws as an in Nigeria

THE CONSTITUTION: The Constitution sets out the fundamental rights of an individual, one of which includes the “right to dignity of the human person” as protected under section 34. Section 34 (1) provides that “every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his (her) person and accordingly (a) no person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment”. Thus sexual assault or violence in any form constitutes a derogation from this provision as it is set to directly or indirectly attack the dignity of an individual which is a victim.

Thus, any act or omission that can aid the degradation of the right to dignity of an individual violates Section 24 of the Constitution

THE CRIMINAL CODE: This law is only applicable to the southern part of Nigeria. Under this law, Rape is defined as an act where a person has an 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 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 actor in the case of a married woman, by impersonating her husband.”- Section 357. From this definition, it is clear that only women and girls are contemplated by this law.

Thus, if there is a case of rape for example in the southern part of Nigeria, the Criminal Code is the law that is applicable. The Criminal Code is a federal enactment. Thus, States have their own Criminal Code Laws as well.

It is important to note that penetration and consent are key elements to prove rape

Thus, if an action is brought under this law the following must be proved to win that case:
a. That the accused had sexual intercourse with the woman without her consent
b. That the act is unlawful and not between a woman and her husband
c. Penetration is proved
d. The accused intended to have intercourse with the victim without her consent.

The ultimate of the above is Penetration- that is the penis entered the vagina- if not the action of rape cannot succeed.- Adeoti v. State. Although, the slightest penetration will succeed even though the hymen is not injured.

From this law, you can glean that it is talking about women and girls.

I mean, only a man can penetrate and only a woman can be penetrated from the provision of the criminal code

Trust me, proving penetration can sometimes be a herculean task.

In the case of Ndewenu Posu v, The State (2010) LPELR-4863 CA where the court held that:

“To prove penetration, the Supreme Court has warned about the undesirability of relying solely on the uncorroborated evidence of the prosecutrix and that some other independent evidence Is required to prove penetration. See Okoyomon v State (1972) 1NMLR 272”

Thus, under this law, a man may have sexually assaulted (raped in this case) a woman, if there is no penetration, then we may be left in a dilemma.

It is important to note the punishment for rape under the Criminal Code is life imprisonment, with or without canning.

– Section 359 of the Criminal Code.
Attempted rape is 14-years imprisonment – Section 360
– Indecent assault on females- 2 years- Section 361- abduction of females and abduction of females under 16 years of age is for 7 years- Section 362

The Penal Code: This law is applicable in the Northern part of Nigeria. Unlike the criminal code, the penal code has a lot of provisions on sexual assaults and violence. However, I will focus on rape. Accordingly, the Penal Code, Rape is said to occur where a man has sexual intercourse with a woman-

a. Against her will;
b. Without her consent;
c. With her consent, when her consent has been obtained by putting her in fear of death or hurt;
d. With her consent when the man knows that he is not her husband and that her consent is given because she believes that the man is her husband or believes she is lawfully married to.
e. With or without her consent when she is under the age of 14 years old or unsound mind.

The punishment for rape under this law is 14 years’ imprisonment.

The Penal Code is applicable in the North as already stated


Again, the woman is the focal point of this law.

This law suggest that only a woman can be raped

Unlike the Criminal Code and Penal Code we have the VAPPA

THE VAPPA: The VAPPA defines sexual violence as any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances or acts to traffic or otherwise directed, against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victims, in any setting, including but not limited to home and work. Unlike the previous criminal laws, we have explored the VAPPA is wider in ambit, as it is encompassing. In that the definitions extends to women, men, girls, children, etc. It is not gender-biased. The downside of the law is its limited application i.e. its applicability is limited to the FCT.

Under the VAPPA, rape is said to have been committed by a person if:

1. He or she intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus, or mouth of another person with any other part of his body or anything else;
2. The other person does not consent to the penetration; or
3. 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 or 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.
This law is really interesting, The applicability is wide.

This definition transcends the use of just the mouth and anus to commit rape. Another interesting point is that penetration here need not only by the sex organ (penis) of the offender but by any part of his body or anything else. This is an improvement on the Criminal Code Act and Penal Code that requires sexual intercourse. Again, consent must have been vitiated or was obtained by force or threat of use of force or intimidation or deceit including impersonation.

It is interesting to note that the Act looks at remedial alternatives for the victims, although this is awarded subject to the discretion of the court.

Furthermore, the Act makes it an offense for anybody to be involved in acts of indecent exposure. Thus, the act contemplates that a person who intentionally exposes his or her genital organs, or a substantial part thereof with the intention of causing distress to the other party, or that another person seeing it may be tempted to commit an offense under this Act commits an offense termed “indecent exposure”. – Section 26. Thus, women or young ladies that deliberately pressure men by exposing their genitals can be brought to face the law under this law. Such persons can be sentenced to an imprisonment of up to 1-year imprisonment or to a fine not exceeding N500, 000.00 or both.

THE CHILD’S RIGHT ACT: From the name we can already assume that it is set to protect children. However, a child is anyone under the age of 18 years old. Thus, no one can have sexual intercourse with a child even when they consent. It is called Defilement. The position is that a child who is under 18 does not have the capacity to consent. And the punishment for defilement is life imprisonment. Thus, a child who is below 18 can only be defiled and not raped.

In the case of Boniface Adonike v. The State (2015) LPELR-24281 (SC) (Pp. 60-61, paras G-C) wherein the Supreme Court held that for the prosecution to successfully proof the offence of rape/unlawful carnal knowledge, the following ingredients must be proved:

a. That the accused had sex with the child who was under the age of 11 years.
b. That there was penetration into the vault of the vaginal.
c. That the evidence of the child must be corroborated.

Any other form of sexual abuse on a child attracts a term of 14-years imprisonment, including betrothal, marriage, etc. This contradicts the norm in the Northern part of Nigeria though, where child marriage is a given.

THE CYBER CRIME ACT: This is simply the use of the cyber space to commit sexual assault or violence on an individual. This is against child pornography etc. Will not want to go into this law to afford us the opportunity of examining some other key points.


This rule is the National Industrial Court (“NIC”) Civil Procedure Rules, 2017 regulates industrial and labour relations before the court. The Rules define Sexual Harassment as “an unwanted, unpleasant, offensive or threatening conduct of a sexual attention that is welcome and mutual. A sexual attention becomes sexual harassment if-
(a) The behavior is persistent, although a single incident or instance can constitute sexual harassment; and/or
(b) The recipient has made it clear that the behavior is considered offensive; and/or
(c) The perpetrator should have known that the behavior is regarded as unacceptable

Again, because of time constraint, we have a summary of some of the stated laws.

Que: Barr. Adeyemo my next question is to you.

What’s the legal care and approach the individual needs? Barr Adeyemo

Answ: It is important to note that our today’s topic in bringing justice is more evidential. I must say that there is no statute of limitation, that is, you can bring the action at any time because it is a criminal offence.

I must also state that although, there is no statute of limitation, there is a need to be pragmatic and pro-active if indeed one seeks to bring the perpetrator to book and get the dividends of justice. It is advised that a victim should get tested early (especially immediately after the incidence in cases of rape), avoid having your bath before reporting, this is because the locus in quo (the place of the crime) might have been washed away; avoid changing your clothes immediately, do not throw the cloth away.

Again, I have made given the above advice on the ground that not everyone one is born with a hymen. And sometimes the hymen might have been ruptured before the incidence (for example, athletes often have ruptured hymen).

1. Report the perpetrator to a senior person
2. Report to the police
3. Go to the hospital to do a check and test yourself and get the doctor’s report (this will become useful when the matter finally gets to court)- this is the best corroborative evidence for the victim’s testimony. You know the crime is often committed in secret.
4. Lodge a complaint with the ministry of justice.
5. Lodge a complaint with NGOs and government specialized bodies.
6. Get a lawyer if you can afford one.
7. Do not be discouraged.
8. Do not be pressured by what people say or the society’s reaction to the case.

I must state again, that sexual offences are criminal in nature and it is handled by the State (Government)

Thus, it is thought the instrumentality of the Police that we can proceed , especially with investigations and evidence sourcing.

There are many societies that are advocating the cause of victims against perpetrators – both private and public. I have listed some examples below.


1. Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT)
Address: DSVRT, Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos
Phones: 112, +2348137960048

DSVRT is an organization of the Lagos State Government committed to ensuring the eradication of gender based violence at no cost. It works hand in hand with the Ministry of Justice.

2. The Mirabel Centre
Address: Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, Lagos
Phones: 08155770000, 07013491769, 08187243468, 01-2957816

I have had the opportunity to directly have some legal related assignment to do with Mirabel Centre and I must commend the institution for a job well done

Although, you can bring an action for rape at any time, it is imporatnt to note that evidences and witnesses are not easy to come by especially if it occurred so far away from prosecution

We all remember the Dakola and Fatoyinbo’s case, Despite the allegation, she still had to pay him for cost

About enifex 11 Articles
I am Sotikare, Eniola Festus known as Enifex, I studied Mass Communication at one of the best citadels of learning in Nigeria. Enifex started blogging sincee 2013 and he has operated on many blogs and forums. He is a good content writer, PRO and Advertising Scriptwriter also a freelancer. Contact: Or:

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