Representatives of the child protection community in Lagos State gathered recently to attend the launch of the Cece Yara Child Advocacy Centre’s state-of-the-art Forensic Suite for children who have experienced sexual abuse, in Lagos.
A forensic interview is a structured conversation between a Forensic Interviewer and a child with the objective of obtaining detailed information or accounts of events that the child may have experienced or witnessed.
The interview is usually carried out in a child friendly setting, at the beginning of a police or child protection investigation.
It is especially valuable especially where there is no witnesses or physical evidence, and the outcome of the case depends on the victim’s verbal account of what happened. The child’s account is also digitally recorded.
In recent times, Nigeria has recorded an alarming rate of child sexual abuse more than ever in history.
It is regrettable to know that only a minimal number of perpetrators are convicted or punished for this crime.
Underreporting, improper interviewing, the inability of our community and law enforcement agents to react appropriately to disclosures of child sexual abuse, as well as the limited ways to assess the credibility of testimonies of victims, may have also contributed to the increasing number of unprosecuted cases.
At the launch, Mrs. Bola Tinubu, the Founder Trustee of the Cece Yara Foundation, stated that the Forensic Interview Suite was in the forefront of technology and research-based investigation of child sexual abuse cases, and would be transformational in assisting the police to the carry out more thorough investigations and the discovery of high quality evidence.
“It is a professional discipline that can make a fundamental difference to the way in which we approach the investigation of these crimes against young children. Now our children have a child friendly environment to disclose all the details of their abuse to a professional that understands them and who understands the challenges they have articulating the details of the abuse due to their age, the range of their vocabulary, and the effect of trauma.” – Mrs. Tinubu said.
The team was trained by Dr. Princess Olufemi-Kayode, who has worked for nearly 20 years with sexual and gender based violence victims, started the first Rape Crisis Centre in Nigeria in 2005, and is the founder of Media Concern Initiative for Women and Children (MediaCon), a Non-Governmental Organization committed to responding to issues of sexual violence against women and children.