Ripped from the headlines

This  post is part of  the Daily Post at WordPress  posted on Monday this week. Briefly:

Head to your favourite online news source. Pick an article with a headline that grabs you. Now, write a short story based on the article.  

I happened to pick up yesterday’s Daily Star newspaper and there on the front page was this story .  A ruling of the Pretoria High Court found that sections of the Sexual Offences Act, which made consensual sex between teenagers a crime, were unconstitutional. Hence, it is no longer criminal for children aged between 12 and 16 to have consensual sexual activities with each other.  This section of the law also made it illegal for teenagers to participate in any sexual activity including kissing. The ruling also states that any adult aware of such conduct between teenager has a duty to report it or they face jail time. Below is my response to this ruling (please note: the actual judgment has not been released and this is based on sensational reports by newspapers).

  • There are two issues at stake here: a legal issue and a moral one and not always will one inform the other. Morally, it is upon all of us as parents or parents-in-waiting to talk to teenagers about the benefits of abstaining but its not the place of the courts to do that on our behalf.
  • This ruling does not in any way make paedophilia legal – the legal age of consent in South Africa is still at 16 years old. Sex between an adult and a minor is still viewed as statutory rape.
  • Teenagers are already having sex, this does not in any way legalise it. This ruling clarifies further inconsistencies in the law where one section criminalises sexual activities for teenagers but another allows them to gain access to contraceptives.
  • The ruling offers an “out” for adults so concerned about underage sex – they are welcome to report the matter. Indeed, they are prevailed upon to report this matter to the authorities.
  • I don’t feel strongly about this ruling at all.

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