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Odesola’s introspection into sexual crimes

By Gregory Austin Nwakunor
26 July 2020   |   3:12 am
The world is currently immersed in sexual violence, abuse and assaults from predators — Every day, shocking stories of violation fill the pages of newspapers.

The world is currently immersed in sexual violence, abuse and assaults from predators — Every day, shocking stories of violation fill the pages of newspapers. Nobody is comfortable enough to leave his or her kids with neighbours without fear of molestation.

In 437 pages, nine-chapter book, with seven pages devoted to the glossary and another seven to bibliography, Funso Odesola interrogates sexual crimes in the world. Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa writes the three-page foreword.

The book is a marvel of legal-cum sociological writing that is propelled by the right amount of explanation. It is also impressively well-grounded in much of the territory it covers and the reader is compelled to constantly learn new twists and nuances of sexual crimes.

The book, Sexual Crimes in Africa and How to Deals With Them, digs deep into what the Zambian Penal Code (Chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia) says about sexual crimes and how to deal with them. The book also looks at various judgments from Zambia to Britain, as well as those from other Commonwealth countries such as Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

The author points out that once people understand the law, preventing sexual offences will be easy. “And in this period of HIV/AIDS, that would mean preservation of life. To preserve life is the most important objective of every institution.”

In his foreword, Adegboruwa notes: “In this rare expose, the author has made an unusual but bold foray into the jurisprudence of sexual offences, tracing their origin and root causes, analysing and dissecting the relevant legislators and also proffering solutions to curb the rising menace.”

He adds, “the book is a ‘jurisprudential classic’ on the topic of sexual offences that should be in publicised private libraries and adopted in schools where the law is taught.”

The author starts with a historical excursion into basic elements of crime, parties involved, the peculiarity of the offences of rape, defilement, incest and other unnatural intercourse.

The first chapter defines sexual crimes and goes on to categorise them. It equally looks at parties to sexual crimes. The chapter notes that people convicted of sex crimes are considered ‘sex offenders’ by the state and face having their names added to state and federal sex offender registries.

From indecent exposure to prostitution, rape and sexual assault, the book describes the crime that encompasses unwanted sexual touching of many kinds. It also discusses statutory rape involving people below the ‘age of consent’.

The second chapter looks at elements of a crime. These elements help the legal practitioner decide whether to arrest a suspect or not.

It is from the third chapter, which focuses on rape in Zambia, that the book establishes a fact that rape is only committed when a man uses physical force to overpower a woman or girl and have intercourse with her.

This chapter reveals the destructive role of sex in the shaping of ‘now’ moment. It goes a notch to interrogate the many times and multiple ways they’ve had an outsized influence at key times and have steered people wrongly.

“This idea of understanding consent originates from traditional beliefs. Traditionally, ‘yes’ to a love proposal symbolised not by word of mouth. All they did was to stand still, look down and remain silent. Then the man knew that his proposal was accepted. Those who said ‘no’ simply walked away and uttered words like: I don’t want, I am not interested in sex before marriage, if you want me, it is better you talk to my grandmother, etc. If a young man only wanted sex from a girl, then there was no way he would go and talk to the girl’s relatives.”

That is the background of sexual intercourse in Zambia, which has equally influenced the modern man and girl. “If what used to happen was normal by then, it is not normal today. Today we can refer to it as rape, for a ‘yes’ to a love proposal does not mean yes to sexual intercourse. If a man wants to have sex with his girlfriend he must ask. But unfortunately, young men are taught by older men not to ask a girl for sex, as she is would always say no and if she accepts then she is not a decent girl. Girls who have had sex, upon being asked, have said that they did not expect the boyfriend to have sex with them.”

Chapter four looks at defilement, interrogating the issue and establishing when a girl is defiled. Traditionally, any girl who has reached puberty is eligible for sex and marriage. Men and girls, especially in rural areas, don’t know anything about defilement.

According to the Zambian tradition, defilement is sexual intercourse with a girl, who has not reached puberty, or sexual intercourse with a virgin. Hence, a girl can only be defiled once, for her virginity symbolises purity, and to defile is to make something dirty, especially something that people consider important or holy.

Chapter six discusses incest and unnatural sexual intercourse. Incest is sexual intercourse between two people who are closely related in a family. Whereas unnatural sexual intercourse is a sexual activity, between two people, that is different from the normal or expected way of having sex.

In the seventh chapter, the author establishes the way forward for sexual offences. He points out that the Zambian Penal Code from the time it was adopted from the British has not been amended frequently. Hence several weaknesses can be noticed. These weaknesses have made police officers find a lot of difficulties in performing their duties.

Chapter nine looks at countries such as Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Nigeria and Zimbabwe and how sexual crimes are interpreted judicially.

It is a well-researched book, which paints a painful and humiliating portrait of sex. It is filled with lively documents that make it a must-read book for the moment.

Odesola has written not just an engaging but also an important book. In fact, as it has been pointed out if you want to better understand our current malaise… this book will give you both useful perspective and an enjoyable ride along the way.

Odesola, a seasoned multi-disciplinary professional, is an experienced theologist, lawyer, educationist, engineer and administrator. He has written more than 100 books and many research publications on education, theology, law, sociology, HIV/AIDS, Cultural issues, missiology, history and health-related matters.