Sexual Offences Act

Having Sex With Teens Still a Crime: Expert

University of Pretoria Centre for Child Law Professor, Ann Skelton, says even if the justice committee's bid to decriminalise sexual intercourse among teenagers is successful, it will still be a crime for adults to have sex with children under the age of 16-years-old.

Last week the committee told Parliament to amend the 2007 Criminal Law - Sexual Offences and Related Matters Act - to bring it in line with two Constitutional Court judgments.

Criminalising Consensual Teenage Sex Could Violate Rights

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) say that sections of the Sexual Offences Act that say teenagers should be prosecuted for having consensual sex violates several children's rights.

They say whether or not it is moral for teenagers between the ages of 12 and 16 to have consensual sex is perhaps a matter best left for their parents to decide.

However, sections of the Sexual Offences Act say teenagers should be criminally prosecuted for their decision to do so, and this is a measure that NGOs feel is a step too far - and one that violates several children's rights.

Sexual Offences Act Vital, Says JASA

The Justice Alliance of South Africa (JASA) says that the provisions in the Sexual Offences Act which prohibit penetrative sex between consenting children are a useful deterrent.

JASA director, John Smyth, points out that, "Nobody, of course, least of all JASA, wants children prosecuted, but our excellent system of 'diversion' found in the Child Justice Act assures this seldom, if ever, happens."

Smyth states that a deterrent is vital, adding that the girl needs to be able to say to the boy: 'No, I am not doing that, and anyway it's against the law'.

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