SA legislation praised in global report on child sexual abuse

16 January 2019 - 11:24 By Nico Gous
A survey says South Africa shows its commitment to tackling sexual violence against children by enacting comprehensive legislation. File photo
A survey says South Africa shows its commitment to tackling sexual violence against children by enacting comprehensive legislation. File photo
Image: miloszg/123rf.com

Children are threatened by sexual violence yet it is "rarely discussed, even though its emotional and health consequences linger, and the socioeconomic impacts can be devastating".

That is what the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) said in its index on child sexual abuse and exploitation published on Wednesday. The EIU is the research arm of The Economist Group, which publishes The Economist.

"The risks to children have been greatly increased by improved communications connectivity and mobility, which make it easier for offenders to find and lure children online."

The survey said South Africa showed its commitment to tackling sexual violence against children by enacting "comprehensive" legislation.

"Victim support and resources for legal and law enforcement professionals could be strengthened."

Image: Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)

The report praised South Africa’s training and guidance support workers in dealing with these cases.

"The department of education issues guidelines for teaching professionals, and there are similar programmes for medical, social and psychiatric workers," the report said.

It praised laws prohibiting:

  • Buying minors for sex
  • Filming or photographing of minors having sex
  • Human trafficking
  • Online grooming.

It also praised Vodacom's toll-free line offering children counselling.

The index ranked how 40 countries respond to these issues at a national level.

The World Childhood Foundation, Oak Foundation and the Carlson Family Foundation helped in developing the report, titled Out of the Shadows: Shining light on the response to child sexual abuse and exploitation.

The index did not measure the scale of the problem in each country but examined how stakeholders are responding to the threat of child sexual abuse and exploitation. It defined child sexual abuse as "anything in which a child is used for the sexual gratification of another".

One of the UN sustainable development goals is to end violence against children by 2030.

Only half of the 40 countries collect nationally representative prevalence data on child sexual abuse. Only five collect this data on child sexual exploitation.

The report found that boys were overlooked, with 21 countries having no legal protections for boys in their child rape laws. Only 18 countries collect prevalence data about the sexual abuse of boys.

It said these areas should be improved:

  • Access to victim support programmes
  • NGO guidelines for reporting on cases of sexual violence against children
  • Better resources for legal and law enforcement on the prosecution of sexual assault cases involving children
  • Child-specific rape laws or child protections in our current rape laws.

The survey considered:

  • A country’s safety and stability
  • The social protection it offers families and children
  • The legal and regulatory protections
  • Government commitment and capacity
  • Engagement with industry, civil society and the media.
Image: Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)

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