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South Africa: What Are Sexual Offence Crimes?

The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act 32 of 2007 (Sexual Offences Amendment Act or SOAA) protects any person who has experienced any of the following:

  • 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 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 or a person living with mentally disability to perform or witness any sexual act or became sexually ready. Children are usually unaware that the person is grooming them for sexual acts because this person is often nice to the child. In most instances, after realizing the motive of the person, the child is scared to report this because the incident could have been taking place over a long period of time. This is a crime and must be reported.
  • Incest occurs when people who are related and are not allowed to marry each other engage in a sexual act with each other. This is illegal even if they both agreed to do so.
  • Child pornography occurs when a child is used for the purpose of publishing pornographic material.
  • Child prostitution occurs when a person uses a child or any person living with mental disabilities in sexual acts for a reward or expose them to pornography.

Anyone can be a victim of a sex crime. It is important that victims understand that they are not to blame.

You can find more information on sexual crimes and the protection of victims on the website of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.

The booklet on “Victims of rape and other sexual crimes” contains a list with contact details of centers and shelters that provide service to victims of sexual violence.

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