The Justice Alliance of South Africa (JASA) is to intervene as a friend of the court in a court action in which the High Court is being asked to rule that teenagers between the age of 12 and 16 may lawfully engage in consenting sexual intercourse.
The applicants. the Teddy Bear Clinic and RAPCAN, are seeking a High Court order that the legislation which prohibits consenting sexual activity between teenagers under 16 years should be struck down as unconstitutional.
In papers originally filed before the court in late November, the applicants say that it is an anomaly that under section 134 of the Children’s Act, children above the age of 12 years can be given condoms but under section 15 of the Sexual Offences Act they may be reported for engaging in consensual sexual intercourse.
According to an article on the JASA website, the organisation, which stands for justice and high moral standards, has decided to intervene in this matter as amicus curiae to assist the State in opposing the application.
Apparently a date for the hearing has not yet been set.
JASA writes on its website: “One of our major concerns is that the expert’s report relied on by the applicants contains value judgements both as to what is ‘sexually healthy’ and what is ‘normative’ which we believe are very much a minority view, and certainly do not reflect the intention of Parliament when the Act was passed in 2007.
“JASA also believes that this matter is of huge importance to the morality of impressionable teenagers and their future marriages, and of course to the country as a whole. As has been frequently reported in the media, the scourge of internet and cell phone pornography has encouraged children to emulate what they see on their screens.”
Call for Christians to pray about case
Dr Jan Kuehne, president of the Christian Medical Fellowship of South Africa, a sister organisation to JASA, has sent an email to Christian groups asking them to join in praying about the pending court case. “The changes the applicants seek would allow a “free for all” for teenage sex,” he writes. “Older children will most likely exploit and encourage younger ones to get involved in both heterosexual and homosexual practices from the age of 12.”
Meanwhile, it was reported in South African newspapers in late January that the legal age for consensual sex would probably be lowered and changes would be made to legislation concerning consensual sex between teenagers.
Mr Johnny de Lange, chair of the portfolio committee on justice that is considering amendments to these acts, said the law stated a man had to be 19 and a woman 16 in order to have consensual sex. However, all were equal before the constitution and therefore the same age should apply to everyone. Sex with a child between the ages of 12 and 16 would remain statutory rape.
De Lange said that in a case where teenagers between the ages of 12 and 16 had consensual sex, it often happened the girl’s parents asked that the boy be charged with rape.
De Lange said: “We want this to change. If a prosecutor receives such a complaint, he should have the option of charging both the girl and boy for the offence if there are grounds for this.
“Both parties must be responsible. But it should not be a crime if there was mutual consent between the children; they should rather take part in a programme than serve a prison term.”
Sex, even if it was consensual with a child under 16, but involved somebody older, should be prosecuted, he added.
“The only thing that changes is the age of consensual sex, the rest of the act remains unchanged,” said De Lange.