Section 259 of the Criminal
Law of Lagos State, provides that;

“Any person who penetrates
sexually the anus, vagina, mouth or any other opening in the body of another
person with a part of his body or anything else, without the consent of the
person is guilty of a felony and liable to imprisonment for life.”

This offence is known as
sexual assault by penetration and it means that the following acts are
punishable, under that section;

1.      A
man (or woman) forcibly penetrating the body of his/her spouse, sexually. This
is referred to in some countries as spousal rape.

2.      Forcible
sexual penetration of a member of the same gender.

3.      The
sexual assault need not involve the genitals, to violate the provisions of this
section as penetration with objects, (so long as it done in a sexual manner) is
now clearly included.

4.      This
offence also covers an unwelcome sexual penetration of the anus, mouth or any
other opening in the body of the victim. Anal rape for instance, is now be
punishable under this section, in Lagos State.

Please note that this
offence is punishable with life imprisonment; same as rape.

It is important to note that
as of today, as far as this writer knows, this provision has only been enacted
in Lagos State (there is a similar provision in Section 1 of the Violence
Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, 2015, (VAPPA) which defines rape to include
all acts included in Section 259 of the Lagos law. But this law is applicable
only in Abuja).

In other states, the
Criminal Code/Penal Code, provides for rape and defines it to mean the unlawful
penile penetration of the vagina, without the real consent of the victim. These
laws do not recognise for instance, spousal rape, anal rape or even same gender
sexual violence. All these fall under indecent assault which is punishable with
three years imprisonment (in the case of a male victim) and two years
imprisonment, in the case of a female victim. The punishment for these, in this
writer’s opinion, is not enough to serve as punishment or a deterrent, for the
commission of these offences. This is so because, penile-vagina rape is
punishable with life imprisonment, under the Criminal and Penal Codes. It is
therefore inexplicable, that other forms of sexual violence, subject of this
discourse, and in which the victim is supposedly in a similar or even worse
situation than the victim of penile-vagina rape, carry such a negligible term
of years, as punishment.  

One of the applaudable
innovations of the VAPPA, is that Section 1(4) thereof provides that a register
for convicted sexual offenders shall be maintained and made accessible to the
public. This will not only serve to deter the commission of sexual offences,
but will also help to protect any prospective victim from falling prey, since
background checks can now be done on persons. It will be very beneficial, if this
provision can be enacted and implemented by all states of the Federation.

In conclusion, since sexual
offences come in different forms, our laws must recognize this and be dynamic,
to ensure that justice is served, at every material point in time. It is the
writer’s wish that other States begin to amend/alienate their criminal laws, so
as to ensure adequate protection for victims of sexual assaults, that adequate
punishment is meted out to offenders and to ensure ultimately, the safety of
lives and dignity of all, living within their jurisdictions.

 Zeniath Abiri 

Abiri & Mustafa 
Source – LinkedIn