Language interpreting during the forensic interview : a social work investigation
The sexual abuse of children in South–Africa, and across the world, is becoming a daily phenomenon. Such abuse of children takes place in every class, culture and race. Forensic social workers are appointed for sexual abuse cases to assess the alleged victims of sexual abuse in order to determine the likelihood that sexual abuse actually took place. The problem in South–Africa is two–fold: first, only a few social workers are qualified forensic social workers and second, most of the forensic social workers in South–Africa are white females who cannot speak or understand all the 11 official languages of South–Africa. Yet the children who are victims of sexual abuse come from cultures and races where these 11 languages are spoken. This then raises the problem of the language barrier between the forensic social worker and the alleged victim of sexual abuse. The appointment of language interpreters for forensic interviews is evidently the only way to overcome the language barrier. There is a great need for language interpreters as their role is crucial to the forensic process. However, many forensic social workers have experienced serious problems with language interpreters during the forensic interviews and have remarked that the mere presence and behaviour of the language interpreter is often so detrimental to the forensic assessment that they prefer to do without them. The problem of the language barrier remains, however, and the problems of the appointment of the language interpreters have to be addressed to enable forensic social workers to conduct forensic assessments successfully and thereby assist in ensuring justice in such criminal cases. The researcher in this study believes that the communication barrier that exists between the forensic social worker, the alleged victim of sexual abuse and the language interpreter is a crucial issue that requires immediate attention to ensure effective service delivery in the judicial system of South–Africa. The article format was selected in accordance with Regulation A.11.2.5 for a Master’s degree in (Social Work in Forensic Practice). The article complies with the requirements of the Journal CARSA.
- ETD@PUK