Doctors and nurses should be reporters of sexual assaults to appropriate authorities, a rights campaigner, Mrs Bose Irosi, said on Friday.
Ironsi, also a retired midwife, said in Lagos that doctors and nurses saw rape and other sexual assaults only as medical issues requiring medical attention without seeing the human rights angle.
She spoke during a training on sexual assault trauma management.
The training was organised by a British Council Programme in Nigeria: Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) funded by the European Union.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that 25 medical doctors, nurses and social workers from Island Maternity, Alimosho, Igando, Gbagada and Ikorodu general hospitals attended the training.
Counsellors of Women’s Rights and Health Project (WRAHP) a non-governmental organisation, also participated in the training.
Irosi, who is also the President of WRAHP, said: “Rape is a calculated terror against women, people are killing women daily by raping them.
“As a retired midwife, we see rape cases in hospital like any other medical issue that needs only medical attention without giving attention to the human rights angle of the cases.
“Doctors and nurses should not only treat rape patients but should follow up on the human rights angle of the case.
She urged doctors and nurses to see themselves as parents of rape victims brought to them for treatment.
“If you can prosecute an offender against your child, you should do the same for rape victims brought to you for treatment.
“You should take such victims to sexual assault referral centres which will counsel the victims and take up the cases,” Irosi urged.
According to the retired midwife, the majority of rape cases reported at police stations lacks forensic examination evidence to prosecute alleged offenders.
She urged that doctors and nurses should help in that regard.
She commended RoLAC for the training, urging participants to take it serious.
Miss Amaka Agu, a Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARC) counsellor and facilitator at the training, said that sexual violence was in the increase.
She noted that sexual assault involved trauma and, therefore, should be thoroughly prosecuted.
She advised victims of sexual assaults to be willing to prosecute the cases, noting that justice in such the cases would not be for the victims alone, but for others that would have been victims.
“Counsellors are to work on the psyches of the victims.
“Counsellors shouldn’t be judgmental or biased against the victim, the victim’s name and case must be confidential.
“Counsellors must have passion for the job and should not be culturally or religiously biased.
“You must drop your personal feeling and empathise with the victim. A rape victim should reach SARC in their areas first; the counsellor will then counsel the victim on the way to go about the case, including reporting to the police,’’ she advised.
According to Agu, reports from the counsellor and medical personnel will go a long way to determine the success of prosecution of the case.
She said that a counsellor must be mindful of his or her communication with the victim by not adding to her problem.
“What you say and how you say it will matter; a counsellor must send a message that is acceptable to the victim.
“Many victims were traumatised from their homes.
“Some victims are traumatised by family members who call them printable names,” she said.
Agu advised against stigmatisation of victims of sexual assaults, urging counsellors and medical personnel to take good care of them to give them hope.