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Sexual Offences

Government introduced a new law to protect communities against rape and other sexual related crimes. The new law is called the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act 32 of 2007. This new law which is also known as the Sexual Offences Amendment Act (SOAA) is required to protect victims, especially women, children and people living with mental disabilities that have been raped or have experienced sexual crimes.

WHAT ARE SEXUAL CRIMES (OFFENCES)?

The Sexual Offences Amendment Act (SOAA) protects any person who has experienced rape, sexual assault, sexual grooming, incest, child pornography or prostitution, etc.

  • Rape occurs when a person forces another to have sexual intercourse without their consent. This is a crime and must be reported. The SOAA also makes it a crime for a person to force another person to rape someone. This is known as compelled rape.
  • Sexual assault occurs when a person sexually violates another person without their consent. This is a crime and must be reported. The SOAA also makes it a crime for a person to force another person to witness and or perform sexual acts to someone. This is known as compelled sexual assault.
  • Sexual grooming occurs when a person educates/ introduces or prepares a child to perform/witness any sexual act or became sexually ready. A child is usually unaware that the person is grooming him/her for sexual acts because this person is often nice to the child. In most instances, after realising the motive of the person, the child is usually scared to speak or report this because the incident could have been taking place over a long period of time. This is a crime and must be reported. The same may also occur with persons living with mentally disabled persons.
  • Incest occurs when people who are related and are not allowed to marry each other engage in a sexual act with each other even though they both agreed to do so. It is illegal and should be reported.
  • Child pornography occurs when a person or company uses a child for a reward or money for the purpose of publishing pornographic material.
  • Child prostitution occurs when a person uses a child or any person living with mental disabilities to expose or display to prostitution or engaging him/ her in sexual acts for a reward.

WHO CAN BE A VICTIM OF RAPE OR SEXUAL CRIMES?

Anyone (women, men, children, babies), irrespective of gender can be a victim of rape and it is not their fault that it happened. The SOAA requires all criminal justice officials (Police, Prosecutors, Magistrates and Court Clerks) to deal with all reported sexual crimes without discriminating against victims because of race, nationality, sex, age, sexual orientation or any other reason.

The SOAA recognises that in our communities the majority of victims of sexual offences are children, women and persons living with mental disabilities. It further extends the responsibility to members of the public including government and private institutions to report any form of sexual violence against all vulnerable persons.

SOME OF THE RIGHTS OF VICTIMS OF RAPE AND RELATED SEXUAL CRIMES

You have the right to:

1. Dignity and Privacy - When you report cases to the police and at a public hospital or clinic. When you report to police, you will be taken to a separate room where you can speak in an office or environment that you are comfortable with.

2. Information - When you report to a public hospital, you will receive information on procedures required to have the alleged perpetrator be tested for his or her HIV status and right to receive Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP).

3. Treatment - The courts will appoint a competent person to act as an intermediary in cases where, a witness under the age of eighteen would suffer undue mental stress if he or she were to testify at such proceedings without the assistance of Intermediary services.

VICTIM SUPPORT SERVICES AVAILABLE TO VICTIMS

Any referral made in respect of a person or child that is/was a victim of sexual violence, must be to an accredited centre or shelter. The booklet on "Victims of rape and other sexual crimes" provides a list (and contact details) of centres and shelters which have been assessed for capacity to provide service to victims of sexual violence.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT
Chief-Directorate: Promotion of the Rights of Vulnerable Groups
Private Bag X81, Pretoria, 0001
Tel: 012 315 1808/1656
Fax: 086 653 3306
E-mail: sorma@justice.gov.za