JASA admitted as friend of court in sexual age of consent action

The Pretoria High Court has ordered that the Justice Alliance of South Africa (JASA) be admitted as a friend of the court to assist the State in opposing an application to strike down sections 15 and 16 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act 32 of 2007.

The Clinic alleges that the offences created by these sections which relate to consensual sex between children under 16, are unconstitutional in that they undermine the dignity of children and are not in the best interests of children, JASA says in a media release posted today. The Clinic wants the court to rule that teenagers between the age of 12 and 16 may lawfully engage in consenting sexual intercourse.

The Applicants rely on an undated report written by the late Professor Alan J Flisher, and Anik Gevers, a clinical psychologist. The report seeks to promote “healthy sexual behaviour” including all forms of penetration amongst adolescents, even as young as 12, provided there is consent, and precautions are taken to prevent pregnancy and the transmission of STI, says the JASA release.

JASA believes that such behaviour is not “normative” or “healthy” amongst children so young, and as amicus curiae (friend of the court) we shall seek to call experts who warn against the dangers of early sex both on psychological grounds and on the grounds of the enormous danger of the spread of HIV and other diseases amongst teenagers too young to be aware of the risks and prone to impulsive behaviour.

JASA of course has no wish to see prosecutions brought against adolescents and we believe that in the exceptional case (such as the Jules Verne High School case last year) where the authorities do make use of the legislation, then “diversion” rather than prosecution is right. However we shall urge on the Court that in common with almost all western countries, it is right and proper for South Africa to have this legislation on the statute book, as a deterrent against behaviour which is likely to harm the child, and which he/she is likely to regret in the aftermath, says the JASA release.

JASA believes that the vast majority of citizens of South Africa would support the view that sex during childhood is emphatically not in the best interests of a child.

The order to admit JASA as a friend of the court was made by Mr Justice Bam on 20 April. The case is expected to come on for hearing later in the year or early next year.

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