A recently passed amendment bill to the Sexual Offences Act allowing children between the ages of 12 and 15 years to engage in sexual acts by mutual consent may have devastating effects on the youth.
The bill states that where both children are between 12 and 15 years of age they can consent to sexual acts with each other, regardless of their age difference. However, a child of 16 or 17 years of age can only engage in consensual sexual acts with a child of between 12 and 15 years of age if the age difference is two years or less. This makes the possibility of transgression and being charged with sexual offences very real.
The bill further states that before children are listed on the National Register for Sex Offenders‚ a state prosecutor must apply for such an order. The court must also consider a report on the child’s probability of committing another sexual offence before deciding whether to list them on the register or not.
Priscilla Mulaudzi from Childline Limpopo stated that an increase in teenage pregnancies is inevitable. “We know from experience that some children are having sex at the age of nine and it is our duty to prevent that. Having sex with a minor can result in statutory rape but now it is legal to have sex between the ages of 12 and 15. It is complicated,” Mulaudzi said.
She asked how children of that age can know what they are doing and if they are really ready for maturity? “This will result in a matter where parents will have to be educated on how to discipline children when it comes to sexual engagement,” she said.
Lorette Bosch, social worker at Polokwane Child and Family Welfare Society said the amendment will have a definite impact on children.
Story: RC Myburgh