CHILD GROOMING WAVE ON THE RISE IN SOUTH AFRICA
14 March 2023
By Sandile Useni
Gender-based violence and child abuse cases are prevalent in South Africa, one of the growing trends of child abuse is Child Grooming. Child Grooming is an offense where an adult subjects a child to psychological manipulation and violation of their developing sexuality. A perpetrator will make use of their adult authority or economic resources to draw a child into a relationship that is for the benefit of the perpetrator’s sexual desires. Sexual grooming is regulated by Section 18 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offenses and Related Matters) Amendment Act, 32 of 2007.
In Mpumalanga, a mother was recently arrested and charged with sexual assault of minor son. It is alleged that the accused had sexual intercourse with the minor and recorded the incident. The applicable offenses in such a case include amongst others statutory rape, child grooming, sexual assault and incest. Sexual grooming has also been increased by allowing minor children to access social media platform easy and adults use social media to prey on children who are usually unaware of the threat of child grooming. Child grooming has a long-lasting negative effect on victims and society at large.
This form of abuse has a bad psychological and behavioural impact on the child and results in anger, hospitality, and lead to an aggressive behaviour later in life. Such behaviour contributes to high numbers of gender-based violence and child abuse cases in South Africa. It is imperative that our Courts takes a tough stance in these types of cases and to prosecute the perpetrators of such offences. Harsh penalties should be impose to perpetrators that are found guilty of child grooming in South Africa. Such penalties will likely serve as a deterrent for other perpetrators.
Sandile Useni is a Legal Officer for the Commission For Gender Equality in the Mpumalanga Province.