Women and Justice: Keywords

Legislation

Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act (2015)

Domestic and intimate partner violence, Female genital mutilation or female genital cutting, Harmful traditional practices, Property and inheritance rights, Sexual violence and rape, Statutory rape or defilement

As stated in the accompanying Explanatory Memorandum, the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act aims to “prohibit[] all forms of violence against persons in private and public life, and provide[] maximum protection and effective remedies for victims and punishment of offenders.” The Act provides general protections against offenses including infliction of physical injury, coercion, offensive conduct, willfully placing a person in fear of physical injury, willfully making false statements against another person, damage to property with intent to cause distress, and deprivation of personal liberty. The Act also provides protections against offenses that affect women disproportionately, including a prohibition of female genital mutilation; forceful ejection from home; forced financial dependence or economic abuse; forced isolation; emotional, verbal and psychological abuse; harmful widowhood practices; and spousal battery, among others. Notably, the Act defines the offense of rape in Section 1(1) without an exception for marital rape, which had not traditionally been recognized as an offense (note that the Penal Code Act of 1960 does include an exception for marital rape). The Act provides a procedure for injured parties to apply for a protection order and empowers the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory with jurisdiction to hear and grant applications brought under the Act. As stated in Section 47, the Act is a product of federal legislation enacted in regard to criminal law, a residual matter over which the states have exclusive legislative power pursuant to the Nigerian Constitution. Thus, the VAPP Act applies only to the Federal Capital Territory and is not binding law in a state unless adopted by that state.