Role of social workers in protecting the rights of rape victims and their emotional state
This paper investigated the role of social workers in protecting the rights of rape victims and their emotional state in Nigeria using Lagos State as the focus. The study particularly examined the extent to which rape victim rights have been neglected, strategies employed in criminal laws to protect victim rights in rape cases, the impact of societal beliefs in influencing attainment of victim rights and evaluated the challenges inherent in achieving victim rights in rape cases as well as the efforts of social workers in protecting the rights of rape victims and their emotional state. The paper adopted phenomenological and ethnographic aspects of research. The phenomenological approach utilized in this paper explains what the experience of rape victims are in Lagos while the ethnographic approach details the influence of social workers in helping the victims of rape in terms of emotion and psychology. The findings revealed that a major challenge to the attainment of rape victims’ rights is the inability of the laws to adequately protect the victims and the societal beliefs and culture that hinders victims from speaking up. The paper affirmed that rape victims oftentimes prefer to keep their experience rather than speak up for fear of victimization. The findings observed that Nigerian Laws and Criminal Law of Lagos are not sufficiently applied to the cases of rape in the country especially when the perpetrator knows how to go about defending themselves even against the methods of the law. The paper, therefore recommended that all social institutions, parents, churches, civil societies, NGOs and governmental agencies should as a matter of necessity and urgency provide qualitative sex education and guidance to the Nigerian youths. Also, there should be more severe punishment for rape and public exposure and humiliation should be one of the methods of punishing the perpetrators of rape. The paper also recommended that there is a need for rapid response to documented cases of rape and for post-rape care services to be set up in all Local Government Areas in Nigeria to cater for both adult and child survivors.