Monthly Archives: December 2013

End of year message from us to you . . .

Christmas open Window

As we come to the end of another year, we thank you for visiting our page. We hope that you have found your visit(s) informative and found the information provided useful.

Please let us know what kind of information you would like to see on our page.
What sort of information will keep you coming back on a regular basis?
How can we help you?

Christmas is generally not a happy, festive time for those in abusive situations so we will not trivialise your pain with “happy”, “festive” messages of cheer. Our wish for you will be . . .

Wishing you and your family
The Gift of FAITH,
The Blessing of HOPE,
And the Peace of His LOVE,
At Christmas and always.
From us – to you

Some information you may find useful which we feel is worth repeating at this time of the year . . .

The process of reporting a sexual assault

1. An offence is identified (rape, sexual assault, etc)
2. The offence is reported to the Police
3. The matter goes to Court
4. The offender is convicted
5. The name of the offender is placed on the National Register for Sex Offenders (NRSO)

What is the reporting process?
• The Police have a duty to protect all people of our country whether able-bodied or disabled
• Therefore, children and people with all forms of disability (including mental disability) should feel safe to report any form of sexual offence to the Police and always alert an adult they trust if someone is touching them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable
• Anyone who knows about such behaviour against a child or person with disability must report the incident to the Police.
• If they do not report it, they could get a fine or go to jail.

Reporting an offence to the Police:
1. Go to the Police – go to your nearest Police station. You could ask a friend or family member to go with you.
2. Make a statement (Affidavit) – the Police will take down everything you tell them in the form of a statement. You are allowed to make changes to the statement.
3. Get a Case Number – do not forget to get a Case Number from the Police Officer. This number will be used to keep you informed of what’s happening regarding your case.
4. Medical examination – when reporting to the Police, he/she may ask for a medical person to carry out an examination. The result of the medical examination will be included in your case file.
5. Contact details – don’t forget to give the Police Officer all your contact details: address and telephone numbers. Even when you move, inform the Police Officer so that he/she can keep you informed regarding your case.

What will the Police do after a complaint is lodged?
• An Investigating Officer will be assigned to the case. The Investigating Officer will let you know:
– When the suspect is arrested
– If bail has been granted
– Whether you need to attend an identification parade to identify the attacker in a line-up
– The date of the trial
– When you will have to give evidence
– The outcome of the case
• Don’t be afraid to ask the Police Officer for his/her telephone number to check on the progress of the case.
• After the investigation (which is done free of charge), the Investigating Officer will hand the file to the State Attorney (Lawyer). This service is FREE!!!!
• The State Attorney (Lawyer) decides on whether the matter should go to Court or not.

Child-friendly Sexual Offences Court:
• Special child-friendly Courts have been set up around the country with safety and comfort at the heart of justice.
• The Sexual Offences courts are built to strengthen and support children and survivors of sexual offences
• To make survivors feel safe, toys are provided, as well as a TV (one-way mirror) to get testimony in a manner that makes the child feel comfortable.
• In these Courts, there is a waiting area, so that the survivor of a sexual offence does not have to see the person accused of the crime.
• These courts also make it easier for survivors to lay a charge through the one-stop Thuthuzela Care Centres which may be found at a hospital.

What happens after a sexual offender is found guilty in Court?
• A Court finding a person guilty of a sexual offence against a child or mentally disabled person, must put the details of the offender on the National Register for Sexual Offenders.
• The effects of the finding must be explained to the offender.
• The Registrar of the Court must, where possible, inform the employer of the person found guilty of a sexual offence about the finding, and ensure that the offender’s name is put on the National register.
• This responsibility also falls on the shoulders of the Clerk of the Court who has to complete an electronic NRSO notification that goes to the Office of the National Registrar for Sex Offenders.

Who has access to the register?
• The register IS NOT open to the general public and is kept confidential.
• Anyone found guilty of a sexual offence against children and mentally disabled people is put on the Register.
• Any employer in the public or private sector working with children or mentally disabled persons can apply for a certificate from the Registrar, these include:
– Licensing authorities, courts, any organisation in which children are members, and an employee (whose name is on the register) can apply to see the register
• It can be accessed by an individual applying for a clearance certificate in terms of his/her own case.

The National Register for Sex Offenders (NRSO) aims to stop incidents against children and mentally disturbed people
• The NRSO was established by an Act of Parliament in 2007
• It is a record of names of those found guilty of sexual offences against children and mentally disabled people
• The Register gives employers in the public and private sectors such as schools, crèches and hospitals the right to check that the persons being hired is fit to work with children or mentally disabled people
• Being found guilty of any crime against a child or mentally disabled person will result in one’s name being put on the National Register
• The aim of the Register is to ensure that offenders do not work with children or mentally disabled people
• Also, offenders are not allowed to apply for foster care or adoption, or to work with children
• Employers can find out whether the people they put in charge of their children have not been found guilty of Sexual Offences in terms of the law

What is Sexual Assault?
• A Sexual Assault is when someone touches another person without their permission
• A sexual act involves penetration or an act of sexual violation. Having sex without permission is known as rape.
• Assault involves:
– touching, rubbing or poking at someone’s private parts
– showing your private parts to a child or mentally disabled person
– showing children and mentally disabled people pornographic material
– sexual exploitation and sexual grooming of children

Our country’s laws protect children and mentally disabled people from such behaviour.
• All sexual offences against a child and people who are mentally disabled are placed in the National Register for Sex Offenders.

Always remember:

Relationships are like glass,
Sometimes it’s better to leave them broken
Than try to hurt yourself putting it back together
– Anonymous

Six point checklist on Justice for Violence Against Women

Spinning Crayons

Sexual and gender-based acts of violence are always a crime and a fundamental violation of human rights.

Amnesty International’s checklist for identifying obstacles to justice for women or girls who are victims and survivors of sexual and other forms of gender based violence contains very specific questions, i.e.

Six Point Checklist on Justice for Violence against Women

1. Are existing laws adequate?
2. Is it safe for a victim to report a crime of a sexual or gender-based violence?
3. Are collection of forensic evidence and provision of medical care appropriate and adequate?
4. Are there specific obstacles which prevent a victim from accessing appropriate services in a timely way?
5. Is investigation of crimes efficient and thorough?
6. Are trials fair, competent and efficient?

What are your answers to these questions (specific to the situation in your own country)?

1. Are the existing laws in your country adequate?
2. Is it safe for a victim to report a crime of a sexual nature or gender-based violence?
3. Are collection of forensic evidence and provision of medical care appropriate and adequate?
4. Are there specific obstacles which prevent a victim from accessing appropriate services in a timely way?
What are those obstacles? How can these obstacles be overcome?
5. Is investigation of crimes efficient and thorough?
6. Are trials fair, competent and efficient? What are the challenges? How can those challenges be overcome?

We would like to hear your comments/feedback regarding these issues.

• What have you experienced yourself (first hand experience)?

• What have you heard from friends/family/colleagues?

• What has their experience been?

Websites of interest

Announcement animation

National Child Traumatic Stress Network – Secondary traumatic stress: On this new webpage you will find resources related to secondary traumatic stress and links to a wide range of documents, programs, and materials that can be used by individuals and organisations to create secondary traumatic stress-informed responses to indirect trauma expo-sure. [Source: NCTSN].

Trust Fund for Victims: – This global movement to end impunity and promote justice aims to implement Court-ordered reparations; and provide physical and psychosocial rehabilitation or material support to victims of crimes within the jursidiction of the ICC. [Source: WUNRN].

The Men’s Story Project: – This initiative aims strengthen social norms that support healthy masculinities and gender equality, and to help eliminate gender-based violence, homophobia and other oppressions that are intertwined with masculinities, through men´s public story-sharing events, documentary films and other mass media. [Source: Prevent-Connect].

Violence against deaf women: – Effect of partner hearing status. Anderson M.L, Kobek Pezzarossi C.M. J Deaf Stud Deaf Educ, ePub, 2013: This article investigates the prevalence, correlates, and characteristics of intimate partner violence victimization in hearing-Deaf and Deaf-Deaf relationships. [Source: MedAdvocates].

Early maladaptive schemas in convicted sexual offenders:
Preliminary findings. Carvalho J, Nobre P.J. Int. J. Law Psychiatry, ePub, 2013: This article explores the relationship between early maladaptive schemas (EMSs) and sexual offending, as well as how rapists and child sex molesters differ in terms of these schemas. [Source: SafetyLit].

Children in custody for sexual offences in South Africa

Waterfall and rainbow

In March 2001 . . .

13% (22,524) of all persons in prison were being detained for sexual offences – this comprised:

– 12% (13,724) of sentenced prisoners and;
– 16% (8,797) of un-sentenced prisoners
– Children made up only 2% (525) of those detained for sexual offences; 4% (314) of the un-sentenced prisoners, and 2% (211) of sentenced prisoners

The fact that the number of children detained in prison for sexual offences is decreasing, even only slowly, is probably due to some extent to the courts’ increasing general unwillingness to sentence children to prison as a form of punishment and rehabilitation. This decrease would not be of concern if it were clear that children accused of sexual offences were rather being dealt with through diversion programmes, as imprisonment is seldom the most appropriate sentence for a child. In the Western Cape the proportion of children arrested for sexual offences and subsequently diverted remained at 5% or less between 1998 and 2001.

In many cases the children are not charged for a sexual offence. This is because both professionals and the broader society regard some of the actions as “sex play” that the child will outgrow. These children are referred to as sexually reactive children or pre-sexualised children. In such cases the children may mimic behaviour they have seen from a role model (eg. An older brother or sister) or the media. They usually do not intend to have sex or to achieve any sexual gratification from the act, but are merely copying behaviour that they have observed from the role model. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between the true sexual offender and the sexually reactive child. The difference in intent, the goal of the behaviour (orgasm) and the knowledge of the act, as well as the human anatomy should help to determine the difference between the two categories (Bezuidenhout 2007).

If society closes its eyes to youth who rape and sodomise, or pre-sexualise children who do not have the psychological and emotional ability to contextualise their behaviour, we are guilty of encouraging future adult sexual offenders (e.g. serial rapists). When charges are brought before the criminal justice system, they are frequently withdrawn for two main reasons:

1) The young age of the alleged perpetrator
2) The close relationship between the child sexual offender and the victim. In many instances the victim and the perpetrator are known to each other because they live in the same community or attend the same school

The South African Law Commission (SALC 2002:80) motivates the sentencing of youth sexual offenders as follows:

• To encourage the child to be accountable for the harm caused during the act
• To promote the reintegration of the child into the family and community
• To ensure that the child receives the necessary supervision, guidance, treatment or services in the process of reintegration

In order to ensure that these purposes are fulfilled, it is suggested that youth offenders be diverted from the criminal justice system after careful consideration of the future of each child.

South African Young Sex Offenders Project (SAYStOP), an organisation formed in 1997 and consisting of individuals from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), government departments, academic institutions and individuals in private practice, has developed a functional diversion programme. The programme has been designed for children and youth who meet any of the following criteria:

• They must be between the ages of 12 and 16 years
• They must have committed a sex offence
• They must be first-time offenders
• They must acknowledge responsibility for the offence
• Only a few aggravating factors must be present

Children can be placed on this ten-session programme by being referred to formal diversion or by non-criminal justice agencies or by being given an alternative sentence. The SAYStOP programme addresses, among other things:
• Crime awareness
• Empathy towards victims
• Relapse prevention
• Improvement of self-esteem

Delport and Vermeulen (2004:46) state that sexual misbehaviour is a multidimensional phenomenon and there is a clear need for professionals in the field to adopt comprehensive treatment approaches, informed by an interdisciplinary and multi-model approach, and involving relevant experts from a number of fields.

More attention needs to be given to the development of intervention efforts designed to assist offenders to understand and to take responsibility for the impact that their crimes have on victims, on communities and on families.

Based on the high incidence of sex crimes against and by children in South Africa, it is strongly recommended that all sex offenders be subjected to a compulsory treatment programme before release into the community.

Source: Bezuidenhout, C & Joubert, SJ. 2nd edition, 2008. Child and youth misbehaviour in South Africa: a holistic approach. Pretoria: Van Schaik