In the article below I seek to discuss the offense of rape and it’s shortcoming in limiting rape to an offence against only females.
For the benefit of my audience, I will begin with a definition of rape under Section 98 of the Criminal Code 1960, Act 29.
Rape is defined here as carnal knowledge of a female of sixteen years or above without her consent.
My name is Leemann. I live with my uncle, Hafiz. Things were getting hard for me up north, so he offered to take me in. He was supposed to help my grandparents out by getting rid of one of their troubles. I have been living with him for a month now. Things were going rather smoothly. My job was rather simple: wake up before Baba Hafiz, wash his car, clean the house and do other basic chores such as run errands. But last week, things changed. Something happened with Baba’s girlfriend.
Baba’s girlfriend is Aunty Mercy. She is one fat woman if I say so myself. She is as big as Efiewura’s Little. The people at home do not know of her. Baba gave me strict instructions never to mention her to them. He says he is not ready to send her there, but it is a lie. I know why. They would not approve of him marrying someone who is not of the faith.
I have never liked Aunty Mercy. All she does is bark orders. She claims I clean poorly yet, the one time she was left alone to clean, I came back to find cockroaches doing a little dance around the unwashed saucepans in the sink.
But that is not all. Like I said, something happened last week.
Aunty Mercy is one mismatched coloured woman. What I mean to say is that, she is fair in some places and dark in others. The children next door call it bleached skin. Every single morning for three weeks, I go into the room she shares with Baba when she is around (upon her instruction, of course) and pomade her back for her. She cannot seem to reach it. When I started, that part of her body was as dark as Akrobetu while the rest of her body resembled Nana Ama McBrown’s colour. Forgive me, I watch a lot of Ghanaian movies when I am not working. I wonder if Baba had ever seen her naked. He should have been as repulsed as I was.
During these pomading sessions, which obviously happened after Baba had left the house for work, I noticed Aunty Mercy would look at me in a certain way I could not quite understand. One day, she even held my backside, and then let go as if she had just realized what she was doing.
Last week, she finally made her move.
I had been pomading her back for her when it happened. I should have suspected something was up because unlike other days where she had bottoms on, she was in only a bath robe, and even that came off when I entered.
She had overpowered me and lay on top of me. I find this embarrassing to admit because I take pride in being strong, but she was extremely heavy and I was in shock. I begged her to get off and leave me be, reminding her that I was related to her lover, but it seems the devil had already set his wheels in motion. I do not understand till now how I managed to get an erection. All I know is that she was having a good time at my expense. I could not even breathe well. Her weight had blocked my airways. She ignored my ranting about how I did not want to do what she was making me do. Truth was, I had never been with a woman before.
It took a lot of confidence, but yesterday, I managed to confide in one of my neighbours. He is a lawyer. I told him I had been raped. I wanted him to defend me when I got bold enough to tell my Uncle. I mean, I had been raped, right? She could go to jail, right?
I do not understand what he said. It was not that his words were too big for me. I understood the words. What I do not understand is what he said. He said under Ghanaian law, a man cannot be raped. I tried to argue with him. I was raped. I am clearly above eighteen, and I did not agree to the sex. Why is it not rape?
I had heard people say that a man’s erection is proof that he has not been raped. I expected him to say that it was because I had had an erection that it was not rape. However, this was not why.
According to him, rape only occurs if there is penetration of the vagina. Since I do not have a vagina, I cannot be raped. At least, not legally.
The offence of rape under Ghanaian law is both gender specific and organ specific. As such, only a female, with a vagina can be raped.
So yes, I thought I had been raped. Apparently, I had not been raped. Sorry, false alarm.
I however do not agree with this law.
The specificity of gender and organ in the definition of rape was considered by the Constitutional Court of South Africa in the case of Masiya v. DPP. In this case, Mr. Masiya was being accused of forcefully having anal sex with a nine year old girl. The issue in contention was whether this qualified as rape since rape meant penetration of the vagina of a female. The court was tasked with deciding whether to extend the offense of rape to forced anal sex with a female once it was equally robbing a victim of her dignity as vaginal sex. Though the court was willing to extend the definition of rape to anal penetration of a female without her consent, they did not find it fit to extend it to male victims.
Like Langa CJ, who dissented in part from the decision of the Majority of the Consitutional Court of South Africa in DPP v. Masiya, I believe the law on rape is biased where males are concerned.
The learned Chief Justice found that the definition of rape should also be extended to include unconsensual sex of men. He argued that once it was accepted that rape was about the infringement of dignity, it made no sense to distinguish between men and women if anal rape was as severe an infringement of a victim’s dignity as vaginal rape. To limit the definition to female victims would in no way increase the protection afforded to women, but would rather reinforce dangerous, gendered stereotypes.
I think that I deserve some justice after going through this ordeal, and not to be accused of crying wolf.