Rape is one of the most heinous sexual assault which can be perpetrated against any being. It is not only condemnable, it is criminal and a convict will inevitably face a grave punishment. The victims of rape have in most cases been confirmed to always suffer a serious side effect. One of the dangerous side effects of rape is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Rape simplicita means having carnal connection with a person without consent, or with consent if the consent was obtained by force or by means of threat or intimidation of any kind, or by fear of harm, or by means of false and fraudulent representation as to the nature of the act, or, in the case of a married person, by personating the person’s spouse.
It is apposite for us to note that the definition of rape under the Nigerian laws is archaic, stereotyped and lopsided. However, this is not the purport of our discussion.
For want of space, this article will definitely be circumscribed and it may be very difficult for us to get the nitty-gritty of the topic under discuss.
The offence of rape can only be consummated in law if there is a concurrence of the actus reus (guilty act) and the mens rea (guilty mind). Put rather nakedly, the Prosecution shall establish all the elements of the offence. That is to say, the accused knew in actual sense that the victim was not consenting, but nevertheless, proceeded with the act. Once the elements are proved against the accused person, he must face the wrath of the law.
In order to deal exhaustively with the topic here, we have to consider the following vital and germane questions;
→ What defines a false rape accusation?
→ Is a rape case false merely because the Prosecution failed to secure a conviction of the alleged offender?
→ Does a person falsely accused of rape has any remedy in law? If yes, what remedy?
Generally speaking, in law, there is a well-established principle called ubi jus ibi remedium (where there is a right there is a remedy). Put differently, where one has established that a wrong has been done to him, he should be compensated. One of the essence of such compensation is to reinstate the person to the position he would have been assuming such wrong was not done.
With respect to rape cases, a lot of factors play various roles in the whole process. A good number of rape victims hardly follow up the case. Most times, it is as a result of the stigma, cajoles, perceived shame and need to shield the victim. Once one says he/she was a rape victim people start to look at him somehow, sometimes, people tend to be more careful with rape victims. Our African mentality with respect to sexual abuse of either men or women (women especially) still demonstrates the level of our backwardness.
Be that as it may, each case of rape must be treated on the basis of its own merit. No two cases are the same. In essence, a rape case could while investigation is still going on turn out (discovered) to be false. It may be after trial and from the facts and circumstances of the case too. Again, the parties involved in the case too play an important role in the mind of the court. The attitude of the court in cases involving an adult may not be entirely the same with an underage victim of rape. In any event, the court and the prosecution is expected to evaluate the proof of evidence in every case.
Whether or not one would succeed in an action against a person who falsely accused the other of rape, is dependent on your ability to establish your case. Briefly stated, a person who was falsely accused of rape can maintain an action successfully, both in civil and criminal courts.
In civil trial, one can sue a person who falsely accused him/her of rape and claim damages. You can file an action via:
→ Defamation– Once the allegation is established to be false, you can file an action under the tort of defamation. It is an injury to your reputation. You need to be compensated.
→ Malicious Prosecution– If the complainant laid a false rape accusation against you and engineered your prosecution, once you come out, you can sue the person and claim damages. Court is duty bound to award damages, especially where one goes extra mile to prove special damages.
Under criminal jurisprudence, one can be charged to court for making false rape accusation under any of the following offences:
→ Criminal Defamation– Defamation is both a civil wrong which can be compensated and a criminal conduct which if the accused is convicted will be punished appropriately by law.
→ Perjury– The complainant can be convicted and sentenced if it is established that he lied under oath.
There are still other offences one may be tried for if it is established he/she falsely accused another of rape.
For proper guidance, always get a lawyer. If you still need further clarification and deeper understanding, kindly contact us.
written by Eze Gabriel C.
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