n South African Journal of Psychiatry - Psycho-legal challenges facing the mentally retarded rape victim




Persons with mental retardation face multiple emotional, cognitive and social challenges. Mental health professionals increasingly agree that individuals with mental disabilities are more vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation than the general population. They are particularly exposed to peril because of their often lifelong dependence on caregivers, relatively powerless position in society, emotional and social insecurities, and lack of education regarding sexuality and sexual abuse. Shortcomings and discrepancies in the medical and legal definition of mental retardation make the position of such individuals even more difficult. These shortcomings are discussed in the article.


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