Indecent assault and rape

    • Brief

    • Indecent assault is any forced sexual act without penetration. The victim does not give consent to this act. For example, unwanted touching, caressing or kissing, forcing a person to undress or show their genitals.
      Indecent assault can happen without physical violence or threats. For instance: if the victim does not resist and lets it happen because they are afraid.

      In Nigeria, indecent assault is forbidden by the law.

    • Rape

    • Rape is forced sexual intercourse or oral sex with penetration. The penetration can happen with part of the body or an object. The victim does not give consent to this act. Rape can happen without physical violence or threats. For instance: if the victim does not resist and lets it happen because they are afraid.

      There are never mitigating circumstances. This means that the judge will accept nothing as an excuse for rape. For example, the victim's behaviour, how they are dressed, what they say or do, is never an excuse for rape.

      In Nigeria, by the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015, the minimum punishment for rape is 12 years imprisonment without a fine, and the maximum punishment is life imprisonment. However, where an offender is less than 14 years old, his maximum punishment is 14 years imprisonment and where there is group/gang rape, the offenders are jointly liable to a minimum of 20 years imprisonment. Punishments are also prescribed under the Penal Code and the Criminal Code.

      The Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015 operates only in Abuja, Nigeria's Federal Capital Territory. Some other states in Nigeria have adopted or enacted similar laws, including Anambra State, Ebonyi State and Oyo State. States that are yet to pass state equivalents of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015 are still bound by the Penal Code (i.e. in Northern Nigeria) and Criminal Code (i.e. in Southern Nigeria).


    • Seeking help

    • It is important not to wait to seek help. Maybe a friend or somebody you trust can help you. Your family doctor can treat you and write a report for the police.

      You can also go to the police immediately to file a complaint. If you are afraid of further violence, the police can protect you. The police are obliged to respect your privacy, treat you respectfully and correctly.

      If you go to the police within 72 hours, they can take you to a hospital for medical examination to find evidence from the perpetrator. They will use a rape kit to collect and store evidence, including sperm, blood, hair and skin under your nails, hair and clothes. The examination takes 1.5 to 2 hours. The police then send the samples to a lab for testing.

      The police will work to respect your privacy, and for children, they will hide your identity so that the investigation or prosecution will not harm you.

    • Reporting rape

    • Reporting rape can be emotional and challenging, so you should consider getting support from organisations like Mirabel Centre (mirabelcentre.org). At the Mirabel Centre, located in Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) Ikeja, Lagos, people who have been raped or sexually assaulted can get forensic medical assistance and professional counselling services. They are open from 9 am - 5 pm Monday through Friday, and 10 am - 4 pm on weekends. You can also reach them on 07013491769, 01-2957816, 08176275695 and Twitter: @MirabelCentreNG and Facebook: www.facebook.com/MirabelNigeria.

      In Lagos and other States in Nigeria, people who have been raped or sexually assaulted can also contact Stand To End Rape (STER) for forensic and professional counselling aid (standtoendrape.org).