oa Article 40 - RAPCAN's Child Witness Project : advocating for a child rights based approach in the criminal justice system for child victims of sexual abuse

Volume 16, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1562-4382



Sexual abuse of children results in short- and long-term psychological and behavioural problems as well as the risk of, for example, later sexual and physical abuse and domestic violence. Few child victims of sexual abuse are resilient and able to lead relatively normal lives following the traumatic event/s.

According to the South African Police Service (SAPS) Annual report, 63 067 sexual offences were recorded in 2012/13; 25 446 of these against children (40.3%). Unreported offences are thought to be much higher. The conviction rate of reported offences is very low: 9%. In order for the perpetrator to be successfully prosecuted, the South African Criminal Justice System requires child victims to be witnesses in court. The children are forced to deal with the trauma of having to repeatedly relive the ordeal by retelling their stories of abuse at several stages of the investigation, including during in-court testimony.

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