Jennifer Thorpe examines the loopholes in the South African law concerning sex between teenagers from ages 12 to 15.
In 2013, the Pretoria High Court declared certain sections (section 15 and 16) of the Sexual Offences Act to be unconstitutional.
These sections made it criminal for children between the ages of 12 and 15 to engage in sexual activity with one another.
To be very clear, this ruling doesn’t apply to non-consensual sexual activity, any sexual activity that is non-consensual remains criminalised.
Under the old legislation, the definition of sexual activity was so broad that it meant that children between these ages could be criminalized for healthy sexual developmental behavior like kissing, hugging, holding hands and petting.
This meant that even when children between these ages wanted to do these things, they could be convicted of a crime.
As Sanja Bornman asks in this piece, “what impact would it have on you to be arrested for kissing or petting?” Bornman goes on to present what is perhaps the most worrying potential of the law in its current format:
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