November marks the start of the 16 Days of No Violence Against Women and Children. On the 20th, we also celebrate Universal Children’s Day. So, let’s protect our children. Take a stand against the abuse of women and children. Report all cases of sexual assault to the police.
What is sexual assault?
Sexual assault is any sexual behavior that makes the victim feel uncomfortable, frightened or threatened.
Assault could involve:
- touching, fondling or kissing with- out consent
- touching, rubbing or poking at your private parts in public
- being made to look at, or pose for, pornographic photos
- showing your private body parts to a child or mentally disabled person
- sexual exploitation and sexual grooming of children.
Our country’s laws protect children and mentally disabled people from such behaviour and all sexual offences against a child and people who are mentally disabled are placed on the register.
Reporting an offence to the police
- Go to the nearest police station. Ask a friend or family member to go with you.
- Fill out a statement. The police will take down everything in the form of a statement. You may not make changes to the statement.
- Get a case number from the police officer. This will be used to keep you informed of the case.
- When reporting sexual abuse, you may ask for medical examination. The findings will be included in your case file.
- Give the police officer all your contact details, address and telephone numbers.
Even when you move, inform the police so that they can keep you informed.
What is the reporting process?
The police have a duty to protect all the people in our country. Therefore, children and the mentally disabled should feel safe to report any form of sexual offence and alert an adult they trust if someone is touching them in an inappropriate way. Anyone who knows about such behaviour against a child or mentally disabled person must report the incident to the police. If you don’t report it, you could get a fi or go to jail.
What do police do after you lodge a complaint?
An investigating officer assigned to the case will let you know:
- when the suspect is arrested
- if bail has been awarded
- whether you need to go to a parade to see your attacker in a line up
- the date of the trial
- when you will have to give evidence
- the outcome of the case.
Don’t be afraid to ask the police officer for his or her phone number to check on the progress of the case. After investigating (all of which is done free), the investigating officer will hand the file to the state lawyer. This service is free. The state lawyer will decide if the matter should go to court.
Child-friendly sexual offences court
Special child-friendly courts have been set up around the country with safety and comfort at the heart of justice. Sexual Offences Courts are built to strengthen and support children and victims of sexual offences. They are designed to make victims feel safer. There are toys, a television set and a one-way mirror to get the testimony in a manner that makes the child comfortable.
There is a waiting area, so that the victims do not have to see the person accused of the crime. Sexual Offences Courts also make it easier for victims to lay a charge though the one-stop Thuthuzela Care Centre found in hospitals.