Traditional and social media platforms have been awash with sad tales of rape and sexual violence against women. In Jigawa State, a 12 year old girl was raped by about eleven men. More recently, the brutal rape and violent murder of a 22 year old, 100 level student of the University of Benin has sparked outrage and a conversation on forced sexual relations. It is therefore imperative to reiterate what the law says about consent to sexual relations.

The purpose of this article is threefold. First, to educate everyone on the standard of conduct required by law before entering into sexual relations with another person. Second, to remind those who may have forgotten what the law requires. Third, to reiterate that sex without consent obtained in accordance with the law is rape.

Rape is committed when a person has unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman or girl without her consent, or with her consent and such consent is obtained by force, threats or intimidation of any kind, fear of harm or fraudulent misrepresentation as to the nature of the act, or impersonation of the woman’s husband, in the case of a married woman.

In all the states of Nigeria, the law recognises that only women and girls can be raped and that only men can be the perpetrators of rape. However, in the laws of the Federal Capital Territory Abuja state that a man or woman can be the perpetrator as well as the victim of rape.

Here are some things you must know about consent before you have sex:

  1. In most of the states in Nigeria, a person below the age of eighteen cannot consent to sex. The Child’s Rights Act states that sex with a person below eighteen is rape.
  2. Even if the minor says “yes”, it is still statutory rape.
  3. A mentally challenged person cannot give consent.
  4. Consent for sex must always be expressly and positively given, never make assumptions. Yes is yes and No is No. Consent must be unequivocally and unambiguously given.
  5. If there are circumstances that could negate consent and raise concerns as to the voluntariness of the consent given, then consent has not been given. Consent given under intoxication is not consent.