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New teen sex law makes it past first base

28 May 2015 - 02:15 By Aarti J Narsee

Changes to the law on teenage sex have received their first stamp of approval after vigorous debate. Parliament's portfolio committee on justice and correctional services adopted the controversial bill yesterday with a majority ANC vote. Both the DA and African Christian Democratic Party abstained.The bill - the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Bill - states that consensual sexual acts between children older than 12 is not a crime provided that the age difference between the partners is less than two years.The bill states that before children can be listed on the National Register of Sex Offenders a prosecutor must apply for such a listing.The court must consider a report on the probability of the child committing another sexual offence before reaching a decision on listing the child on the register.After adopting the bill yesterday the portfolio committee recommended that some aspects be investigated further, such as the age of consent and the circumstances in which an adolescent should be deemed to be incapable in law of consenting to a sexual act.A preamble to the bill refers to "discouraging adolescents from prematurely engaging in consensual sexual conduct, which may harm their development, and from engaging in sexual conduct in a manner that increases the likelihood of the risks associated with sexual conduct".Civil society organisations that took part in discussions on the bill, such as the Teddy Bear Clinic for abused children, and Resources Aimed at the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, welcomed the version of the bill adopted by the committee.Resources director Christina Nomdo said that the drafting of the bill had resulted in the realisation that law-making could go too far in trying to protect children.The bill will be sent to the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces for debate...

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