A Summary of the Criminal Law Sexual Offences Amendment Act

32 of 2007

The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Amendment Act has been in effect since 16 December 2007 and affects the punishment of sexual crimes committed after this date. The Act replaces some common law provisions on sexual offences and some sections of the old law, the Sexual Offences Act 23 of 1957. The Act also creates new sexual crimes.

The main aims of the new Act are to:

  1. Include all sexual crimes in one law;
  2. Define all sexual crimes;
  3. Make all forms of sexual abuse or exploitation a crime;
  4. Make sure that both men and women can use the law with regard to sexual crimes;
  5. Make sure that government departments work together to protect complainants from unfair treatment or trauma;
  6. Improve the way the criminal justice system (the courts and police) works;
  7. Make the age when both men and women can give permission (consent) to have sex, 16 years;
  8. Make sure that rape survivors get post-exposure prophlaxis (PEP), which is medical treatment that can reduce their chances of getting HIV from the rape;
  9. Allow rape survivors to find out if the person who raped them has HIV;
  10. Establish a National Register (a list of names) for Sex Offenders.

This booklet summarizes the key provisions in the new Act and related laws. The booklet does not analyse the effectiveness of these provisions.