Constitutional court judgment on sections 15 and 16 of the Sexual Offences Act: Consensual sexual conduct between adolescents 12 to 16 years
The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act 32 of 2007– hereafter ‘the Act’ – in force from 13 December 2013, criminalised consensual sexual conduct between adolescents aged 12 to 16 years.
It also compelled adults (whom the adolescents confided in) to report these crimes. If convicted for consensual sex, the consequences included that adolescents’ names would be entered into the National Register for Sex Offenders. The constitutionality of the sections 15 and 16 of the Act were challenged by the Teddy Bear Clinic for Abused Children and RAPCAN – Resources Aimed at the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect – represented by the Centre for Child Law. The North Gauteng High Court made a ruling on 15 January 2013, declaring the sections constitutionally invalid. The matter was referred to the Constitutional Court for confirmation and judgement was handed down on 3 October 2013.
This brief will explain what the case was NOT about; what the core of the case was; the evidence on adolescent sexuality; the ruling of the Constitutional Court on the constitutional validity of the sections of the Act; the order of the Constitutional Court; and, finally, the advocacy position of RAPCAN in this matter.