UNDERSTANDING THE VIOLENCE AGAINST PERSONS (PROHIBITION) ACT, 2015

 

violence

During the Nigeria Bar Association Law week, my lecturer Professor Alphonsus Okoh  Aluba delivered a lecture on the new “Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act 2015″ which gave me first insight into this new legislation that seeks to prohibit any violence against persons in Nigeria.

On May 25th 2015 the immediate past President of Nigeria, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan recorded a milestone when he signed into Law the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, 2015. This has brought to a successful conclusion the 14-year-long social and legislative advocacy championed by women’s groups and gender activists towards the passage of this law that will protect women and girls from all forms of violence. This Act, according to its long title, is aimed to eliminate violence in private and public life, prohibit all forms of violence, including physical, sexual, psychological, domestic, harmful traditional practices; discrimination against persons and to provide maximum protection and effective remedies for victims and punishment of offenders.

This Act commendably covers most of the prevalent forms of violence that could be categorized into: Physical violence; Psychological violence; Sexual violence; Harmful traditional practices; and Socio-economic violence. Specifically, The VAPP Act comprehensively deal twith one of the most vexed forms of sexual violence, rape, from which existing penal laws protected only females and limited to vaginal penetration .
It has expanded the scope of rape to protect males and to include anal and oral sex as well as protect the identity of rape victims.
The following are offences punishable under the Act: Rape, Inflicting
Physical Injury on a Person, Female Circumcision or Genital Mutilation, Forceful Ejection from Home, Depriving a Person of His/Her Liberty, Forced Financial Dependence or Economic Abuse, Forced Isolation or Separation from Family and Friends, Emotional Verbal and Psychological Abuse, Harmful Widowhood Practices, Abandonment of Spouse, Children and Other Dependent without Sustenance, Spousal/Partner Battery, Indecent exposure, Harmful Traditional Practices, Political Violence, and Violence by State Actors.

The law begins in Section 1 by defining rape as the intentional penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth of another person if such person does not consent to the said penetration or if the consent is obtained by force or means of threat or intimidation. It also recognises that women can commit rape as well. Section 2 states that a person if found guilty of rape will be liable to imprisonment for life except where the offender is less than 14 years in which such person will be liable to a maximum of 12 years in prison, however, in other cases such person can only be sentenced to a minimum of 12 years in prison. If the rape is however committed by a group of persons, the offenders are liable jointly to a maximum of 20 years imprisonment without option of fine and the court shall also award compensation to the victim. The law also states that a register of convicted sex offenders shall be maintained and accessible to the public.

The new law also provides that anyone who willfully causes or inflicts physical injury on another commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a jail term not exceeding 5 years in prison or a fine not exceeding N100, 000 or both.

Also anyone who incites, aids, abets or counsels another person to commit an act of violence is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or a fine not exceeding N200, 000 or both. The court may also award compensation to the victim.

Furthermore, according to the law, coercing another to engage in acts that are detrimental to the person’s physical or psychological well being is an offence and a person is liable on conviction to imprisonment for 3 years. Anyone who also willfully places a person in fear of physical injury commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 1 year to a fine not exceeding of N100, 000.

Compelling another to commit an act either sexual or otherwise, to the detriment of the victim’s physical or psychological well being is an offence and a guilty party is liable on conviction to a jail term not exceeding 2years.

It is worthy to note that the law prohibits female circumcision and offenders will be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 4 years or to a fine not exceeding N200, 000 or both. An attempt to commit the act also attracts a jail term not exceeding 2 years and a fine not exceeding N100,000 or both.

The law also provides for forceful ejection from the home wherein a person who forcefully evicts a spouse or refuses them access commits an offence and liable to a jail term not exceeding 2 years or a fine not exceeding N300,000 or both. The law also states that depriving another of his or her liberty without a court order is an offence and a person convicted is liable to a jail term not exceeding two years or a fine not exceeding N500, 000.

Causing mischief or destruction of property with intent to case distress is also an offence and a guilty party will be liable to jail term not exceeding two years in prison or a fine not exceeding N300, 000.  Another offence is also forcefully isolating a person from friends and family and a guilty person on conviction will be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or a fine not exceeding N100, 000 or both.

Importantly, the Act contained provisions on effective remedies,
including the rights of victims to assistance. According to section 38,
“Every victim is entitled to receive the necessary materials, comprehensive  medical, psychological, social and legal assistance through governmental agencies and/or non-governmental agencies providing such assistance.” Victims are entitled to be informed of the availability of legal, health and social services and other relevant assistance and be readily afforded access to them. Furthermore, it provides that: “Victims are entitled to rehabilitation and re-integration programme of the State to enable victims to acquire, where applicable and necessary, pre-requisite skills in any vocation of the victim’s choice and also in necessary formal education or access to micro credit facilities.”
This Act, long overdue in coming, will unarguably bring succor and effective remedies to millions of victims who have suffered in silence without recourse to justice or rehabilitative-psycho-social support for their recovery and reintegration. The Act affords access and better services  for victims/survivors of violence, such as hotlines, shelters, legal advice, access to justice, counselling, police protection, and comprehensive health services.
The only drawback in relation to this law is its limited application to the
Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. This is as a result of the nature of Nigeria’s federal structure and constitutional distribution of powers between the Federal Government and States of the Federation. It is expected that 36 states of Nigeria will take immediate and necessary action to adopt and enact similar law on Violence against persons.
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To my dear future wife

dear

Hello, my future wife.

This is the first of the epistles I promised myself I would write to you. May be we have met or may be have not but whatever way, Allah knows best. Whether you are reading this before we meet, or stumble upon it after, I want you to know a few things.

The reason why I am writing this today is because sometimes I can’t stop thinking about you, and I can’t stop myself from imagining how happy we will be insha Allah. Let this letter be a promise to you that I will do my best to be the man I want to be for you and for us.

I may not know yet all of the difficulties that come with life time commitment, but one thing I am certain of is that together, we can build a great family and by His grace also make a difference in this society we have found ourselves. With you by my side, I picture my life with the person I will commit to: you.

I have read, seen and heard about couples who are a continuous source of education and inspiration on how I want our relationship to be. So here and today, I vow to try my best to do the following:

I promise to do my best to make you beam daily, so count on my surprises. Your smile will be my priority. I promise I will always look at you with the same adoration as I did the moment I realized I loved you. I promise to hold your hand when we’re 80 years old with the same liveliness that I did when I hold yours for the first time insha Allah.

I vow to challenge you to challenge yourself for the better; to make you think differently. I promise to try to feed off of your illuminating energy that will inspire me to do the same with myself. I will do my best to ensure that being bored never crosses your mind.

Even in grief and darkness, I promise to show you the different shades of the dark, and to help you find the tiny rays of light that are always there if you seek them. After all, there’s always worse than worst and better than best; everything is relative.

I promise to strive to be a role model for our children insha Allah. I want both you and them to see me as a source of motivation. I want to inspire them in the same way that my father inspires me. With you, I’m certain that our children would’ve the best upbringing any father would ever hope for his children.

I want to use this medium tell you one of my many hobbies which is travelling. I want us to travel and explore the world together insha Allah. I promise to have new stories and experiences to share with you, and maybe I’ll retell the best ones again if you insist. Among the places I want us to visit insha Allah includes:

I want us to visit Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage (hajj and lesser hajj). Pray at the Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Mosque of the Prophet at Medina. Visit the hilltop towers and also the capital city of Riyadh. Spend the last ten days of every Ramadan in the holy city insha Allah and also visit other historic and spiritual sites.

I want us to visit Turkey. Our first stop would be Aspendos theatre which boasts one of the best preserved ancient theatres of antiquity. It was built in 155 AD during the Roman Empire. Then Patara beach which is one of the longest stretches of sandy beach found anywhere in the Mediterranean. From there, we head to Bodrum Castle which was built in the 15th century. It is one of the world’s best preserved monuments dating back to medieval times. Then we move to the Blue Mosque with its six minarets and sweeping architecture. The Sultan Ahmed or Blue Mosque is a great edifice. Next is Hogia Sophia which is located in Istanbul. It was constructed in the 6th century. A masterwork of Roman engineering, the massive dome covers what was for 1000 years the largest enclosed space in the world. Explore Istanbul, Ankara and other cities in Turkey as well.

I want also to visit the United Arab Emirate. I want us to see the Burj Khalifa which is one of the famous buildings in Dubai. Not only is it the world’s tallest building, but it also lays claim to the title of the tallest freestanding structures in the world. Then we move to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, a mammoth modern mosque of incredible beauty. It is a blend of modern and old. It doesn’t fail to dazzle all who enter with the lavish use of gold, mosaic work and glass work, marble in gigantic proportions and blindly white stones contrasting dramatically under the Emirate blue sky. Then Hajar Mountains which scythe through the desert, creating the jagged and wild heart of the U.A.E with its twisting roller-coaster roads with spectacular scenery along the way connects the region’s tiny villages. Then to the amazing Sharjah Arts Museum which is dedicated to the diverse arts in the country. Then to other tourist sites like Al-Bidyah mosque, Abu Dhabi towers e.t.c.

United States is one place I hope we visit. First would be Hartsdale, New York where Malcolm X was buried to pay respect to one of my mentors. Then we move to the White house in Washington DC which was built in 1792 and 1800 and first used by President John Adams. Our next stop would be the Denali National Park and preserve which is located at Alaska and contains Mount McKinley, the highest mountains in North America. Then we visit other places like Harvard law school, Maya Angelou’s home, Disney world, James Baldwin’s home, Imam Siraj’s mosque in New York, United Nation building in New York, The United States Supreme Court, The Congress and other places.

Indonesia is another place too I hope we visit. The Lake Toba on the Island of Sumatra is an immense volcanic lake about 100 kilometers long and 30 kilometers wide. It is the largest resurgent caldera on Earth. Then we move to Tanjung Puting National Park which is located on the Island of Borneo in the Indonesian province of Central Kalimantan with many local tour companies offering boat tours to view wildlife and visit the research centers. Other places include the Baliem Valley, the Komodo National Park etcetera.

Visiting England won’t be a bad idea. I want us to see the famous London Bridge, No. 10 Downing Street (office of the Prime Minister), Buckingham Palace, the West Minister (Parliament), Emirate Stadium (home to my club Arsenal fc), University of Oxford but most particularly to the historic Oxford Union where leaders like Malcolm X, Winston Churchill, Margret Thatcher, Lee kuan Yew among others have once appeared there for a debate. Visit cities like Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Birmingham, Swansea and many others.

Then we visit India. I want to us to visit the grave of Indian Nationalist Mahatma Gandhi, the famous Tahj Mahal(Crown of Palaces) a white marble mausoleum located at the on the Southern bank of the Yamuna River in the city of Agra. It was built by Emperor in 1632 to house the tomb of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. I want to also Chennai, Ramesharam, New Delhi, Mumbai, Hydrabad and many other cities.

In Iran, I have read about the Amir Chakhmaq Suare which was built in the ninth century in Yazd. Also I want to visit the Eram Garden (Garden of Paradise) in Shiraz which is typical Persian garden with waterway that leads towards the historic Qayam house. Shiraz is the city of love and Persian poetry and home to many historic sites including the tome o Hafez, a well-known Persian Poet from 14th century. Saadi another celebrated poet of the 13th century is also buried in Shiraz. I want us to also visit Tehran and Ramsar resort which is a popular resort on the Capital Sea.

I want to visit President Vladimir Putin’s Russia. I am big admirer of President Putin’s style of leadership. So I want to see to Moscow, St. Petersburg, Samara, Kazan, Rostov, the annex Crimea and many others cites in the former Soviet Union.

After reading the Autobiography of the great Lee Kwan Yew titled “From the third world to First”, I think we should visit Singapore to see for ourselves how Prime Minister Yew was able to transform his country into one most developed countries not just in Asia but in the world.

I want us to visit of South Africa. The beautiful Sun City Resort known regionally as Africa’s Kingdom of Pleasure situated about two hours’ drive from Johannesburg, Blyde River Canyon, Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, Robin Island where Madiba Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison. Other cities like Port Elizabeth, Cape Town, and others.

Well these are few among many places I hope we visit together in years to come by His grace. I promise to follow up this letter with others just tell you about my other hobbies aside from travelling. Take care of yourself till then.

Sincerely, Your Future Husband