What is Statutory Rape?
Statutory rape can often be a confusing term chomas, and maybe it's because it isn't spoken about often. Do you know what the age of consent is? In other words, do you know at what age someone younger is legally allowed to have sex with another person?
For a long time in South Africa the legal age of consent has been 16 years old. Recently things have changed a bit where the law was revised for teenagers. As of this year, the legal age of consent between teenagers is 12. Remember that this ONLY applies to relationships between young teenagers.
Here's an example of how it works:
A person aged 12 can consent to sex with someone who is 14 years old, but not someone who is 16 and older. So if two minors (over the age of 12 and under the age of 16) consent to sex, then in the eyes of the law this would not be considered statutory rape.
The official age of consent, however, is still 16. This means that adults (in South Africa, an adult is someone over the age of 18) cannot have sex with minors (12, 13, 14 and 15).
Statutory rape then is a form of rape that occurs when someone older than 16 has a sexual relationship with a minor. A teenager below the age of 16 having sex with someone who is below the age of 12 can also be charged with statutory rape.
What can I do if I'm younger than 16 and in a relationship with an older person?
Remember that that person you're dating can be charged for statutory rape and face time in jail. If you're in the relationship like this and either feel like you're forced into it or feel like you don't know how to get out, then you should speak to someone you trust, preferably an adult. You should also contact an authority figure who can help you out of the situation.
You can call these numbers for help and counselling:
Lifeline – 0861 322 322 Childline – 08000 55 555
Teddy Bear Clinic – 011 484 4554 SAPS (South African Police Services) – 012 393 1000
SAPS Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences – 012 393 2014
If you need more information chomas or if you need to talk, remember that you can Ask Choma.
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