Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Nigeria: Prove that you obtained consent or it's rape


On-going and progressing
I have been watching the case of the alleged rape of a young lady by a prominent Nigerian monarch which first came to my attention with the crudeness of cross-examination that asked that she expose her private parts in open court to judge, counsel and other witnesses to determine if indeed she had been raped and bruised. It inspired a blog titled What Rape Victims Face in Court.
There has been much activity since then, though for a rape that occurred in 2010 and a case running into its eighth week including adjournments and other deliberations, the pace of justice has been tardy but a substantive point has been reached. [Source – Vanguard News]
The monarch has no case to answer in terms of three charges of kidnap, assault and deprivation of liberty but having established that he had sex with the lady through his own admission, he would now have to defend himself on how he got the consent of the victim before making love to her – we have the tendency to suggest all acts of sex are “making love”, however, where rape is alleged, it will be utterly inappropriate to consider any inference of love was involved.
Consent is the crux
Now, we have returned to the fundamentals of ascertaining rape – the issue of consent and the burden has with this determination fully shifted on the respondent to prove to the court that there was consent first regardless of the emotion the respondent suggests accompanied the act of sexual intercourse that he says they both enjoyed.
I will also hope that the prosecution will make a stronger case of the rape charge even though the circumstances that led to the victim being within the lecherous confines of the monarch in terms of the kidnap, deprivation of liberty and assault would have helped.
I will suspect in explaining how he got the consent of the lady, elements of the dismissed charges might reappear, the monarch should not think he has gotten off on three of the four charges if he comes under intelligent and hard-hitting cross-examination.
Victim remorse is unlikely
Rape by definition is the crime of forcing another person to submit to sex acts, especially sexual intercourse. As long as the victim believes she was forced into the act, she has been violated and rape has occurred, the onus is now on the alleged rapist to prove they obtained consent and the accusation is not one of remorse after the event.
Going from the information that went into the case when I first wrote about it, the alleged inducements and offers of a bribe by the monarch would suggest a level of culpability but that is just an opinion.
Students are wards of constituted authority
In another development, 35 students of a secondary school in the monarch’s domain were suspended for coming to court to protest the trial of their monarch when they should have been in class.
Much as it is important to have a sense of justice inculcated as part of one’s education, when under the supervision of an authority like a school, such protests would normally require the students obtain permission and they might well be accompanied by a teacher for both their safety and to maintain order – it would appear the said students did not follow that process and were duly sanctioned.
Obviously, with the case sub judice, I would hate to think the students protested out of plain sentiment and in support of the supposed entitlement the monarch might have had to force himself on the lady and for the justification he might have felt not to be held accountable for his alleged crimes.
Public opinion issues
It is also instructive that no mention is made of townspeople or market women having come out in support of their king and there is no telling that the said students were not paid to buttress the image of the king as having community support condemning his on-going prosecution and assumed persecution.
If anything, monarchies in Nigeria are no more as absolute as they tend to be portrayed, the courts are no respecters of persons regardless of status and rape victims can begin to expect that their alleged rapists will have to convince the courts as to the means by which they obtained consent before sex.

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