Criminalize Marital Rape In Nigeria

Criminalize Marital Rape In Nigeria

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Petition to
United Nations and

Why this petition matters

Started by Nigerian Women

As human beings evolve and our societies change, our laws must keep up with the changes and define our interactions in the context of our new societies. There are many areas of our laws in Nigeria that have not kept up with the times and there are areas of modern Nigerian society that need the guiding hands of legislature or pronouncements from the court.

Marital rape has become a common issue in Nigeria, affected by many legal and cultural factors. This includes marital rape not being viewed as a crime in Nigeria. Legally, it is not criminalized, and culturally, it is accepted as a norm of marriage. As of now, informal statistics show that incidents of marital rape in Nigeria are steadily increasing. Nevertheless, reports of rape remain low. It’s believed that rape reports are low due to marital rape being legal in Nigeria. It is estimated that only 1% of rapes are actually reported.

The Nigeria Penal Code, Section 281(1) provides that: “A man is said to commit rape who… has sexual intercourse with a woman in any of the following circumstances – (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 of 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 he is another man to whom she is or believes herself to be lawfully married; (e) with or without her consent, when she is under fourteen years of age or of unsound mind.”

In 2020, a woman came forward about having been raped and assaulted by her husband. She was hospitalized for her injuries, however, her husband was never prosecuted. The woman took the issue in the form of a petition to Nigeria's Supreme Court. Her petition was dismissed, the court saying that the law couldn't be changed on the basis of one person's experience.In 2021 a customary court in Nigeria granted the request of a man for dissolution of his marriage for being denied sex by his wife (Mother of four). The court saying that being denied sex was a valid reason for divorce. It is seen this way because by denying her husband sex, she is also denying him happiness.

Beyond the outright discrimination women will face, are the underlying societal traditions that place husbands in charge of their wives and those wives often at the mercy of their husbands. 94% of rapes in Nigeria are committed by someone the victim knows and women are 40 times more likely to be assaulted by their husbands than by strangers.

The Nigerian Youths appeal to the authorities to bring marital rape also under the purview of the existing rape laws and help address the concerns of women and children in the country!

219 have signed. Let’s get to 500!