Sexual assault: Doctors, nurses, others trained in forensic medical examination

A Medical Consultant, Reproductive Health and Rights Specialist, Dr. Ejike Orji, says a rape case can only be won through the consent of the victim and medical personnel with forensic medical examination documentation.

Orji said this on Tuesday in Lagos while training some doctors, nurses and social workers on “informed consent” by rape victims, stressing that many rape cases had been thrown out of the court due to the lack of forensic evidence to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt.

The training was organised by the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC), a British Council programme in Nigeria funded by the European Union.

It was reported that 25 medical doctors, nurses and social workers working at Island Maternity, Alimosho, Igando, Gbagada and Ikorodu General Hospitals, and counsellors in Women’s Rights and Health Project (WRAHP) participated in the five-day training.

The participants were divided into two groups, doctors and nurses in one group and social workers (counsellors) in another to observed COVID-19 protocols.

Orji said that the training would assist the participants to know the ways and manner they would collect evidences, including injuries in other parts of the victim and document same without being judgemental.

He added that the training would also help the participants on how to present evidences in court, should such matter be charged, while they also know the medical treatment for such victims.

The consultant said “doctors, nurses and social workers (counsellors) participating in this training are to give medical and psychosocial treatment to rape victims. They will also be part of the prosecuting team with the forensic evidences collected.”

The Programme Officer of RoLAC in Lagos, Mrs Florence Adewale, said that the training was for medical personnel and social workers working at the Sexual Assault Referral Centres in Lagos State.

Adewale noted that the training covered skills and knowledge on forensic medical examination documentation, stressing that the training would enable participants to provide medical services that were tailored to support victims of rape and sexual assault and support prosecution of rape cases.

She said that the social workers training would provide sexual assault trauma counselling training to the participants.

“The incessant rape cases in recent time in different parts of the state is really sad and worrisome; there should be concerted efforts toward ensuring that victims get justice, while offenders get punished.

“One major way for this is the presentation of forensic evidence by the medical personnel in court.

“Many victims do not know how to report sexual violence or who, where to run to for support.

“RoLAC is helping to establish Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARC) for easy provision of medical treatment, counselling and follow up support to survivors,” she said.

Adewale encouraged rape victims, parents /guardians to be part of the prosecution, rather than shying away in the guise to avoid stigmatisation.

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