Sexual Offences Against Mentally Disabled People

People with mental disabilities are particularly vulnerable to sexual exploitation.
In terms of the Sexual Offences Amendment Act of 2007, a mentally disabled person is someone affected by any disorder or disability of the mind, so that at the time of crime, she was:

  • Unable to understand the implications of a sexual act
  • Able to understand a sexual act but unable to make a proper decision about it
  • Unable to resist a sexual act
  • Unable to communicate that she does not want to take part in a sexual act.

Many people may have a mental illness or disability but can still understand the nature and outcomes of a sexual act and can therefore still decide to consent to sexual acts.

It must be respected that people with mental disabilities may and do consent to sexual activity – it is a sexual offence if the person does not agree to the sexual act without coercion.

Crimes that apply to children and mentally disabled people

  • Sexual exploitation of mentally disabled people(section 23)
  • Sexual grooming of mentally disabled people(section 24).

It would need proof that the victim is mentally disabled for these offences to apply. An expert report  is needed from a social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist to explain the type of mental disability and whether the victim is able to give her consent.

Learn more

For more information on sexual offences against people who are mentally disabled, read the Sexual Offences Amendment Act of 2007  (summarised) booklet.

The booklet is available in EnglishSesothoXhosa and  Zulu. Click the links to download a copy in the language you want in Adobe pdf  format

  • The Shukumisa Campaign


    About Us

    Welcome to the Shukumisa website, an online resource for

    • rape survivors and their families
    • concerned citizens
    • community activists

    The word Shukumisa means to shake or stir things up

    The Shukumisa Campaign was created in 2008 and aims to stir and shake up public and political will to develop and implement policies related to sexual offences

    Imagine a South Africa where:

    • Everyone treats rape as a serious crime
    • Quality Health, Policing and Legal services are available to all rape survivors, everywhere
    • All women are free to move around as they please, dressed as they please
    • Rape victims aren’t stereotyped in our media
    • We are all included in the development of laws that affect our lives and our communities.

    You can join us by:

    • Adding your voice to our Facebook discussions
    • Supporting our activities, or suggesting them
    • Writing to the media and Government to complain when the law fails rape survivors
    • Getting involved with organisations linked to the Shukumisa Campaign