Child Sexual Abuse in South Africa

Did you know that 1 in every 3 South African children are sexually abused before the age of 16 and the rate of sexual abuse of boys exceeds that of girls!

Child sexual abuse is any sexual acts, or attempts to commit sexual acts, with a child, with or without the child’s consent. The statutory definition of rape in the 2007 Sexual Offences Act includes all forms of sexual penetration and is gender-neutral, meaning that ‘any person’ can commit an act of rape or be raped. Children under the age of 12 cannot consent to sex because they do not have the maturity to understand the consequence of their decision. However, adults are not the only people that sexually abuse children, children do to! If a 16-year-old has sex with a 6-year-old – that is sexual abuse. 43% of sexual crimes against children are committed by other children. Physical or noticeable traumas after being sexually abused are not the only effects. The cognitive, social, psychological and emotional development of the child is also impacted.

There are numerous things that will affect a child who has been sexually abused and all of these factors can affect children differently and at different times and levels of severity. These include: Age when abuse occurred, the familiarity between victim and perpetrator, the severity of abuse, frequency and duration of abuse including the number of perpetrators committing the abuse either at one time or during the victim’s life, will impact the survivors functioning during adulthood.

Another interesting fact is that sexual abuse by familiar individuals (relatives) is more severe than sexual abuse by strangers or acquaintances. 60% of South African children are sexually abused by someone in their social circle!

Our children, the future of South Africa, need to be protected.

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