In response to growing alarm over Swazilands HIV infection rate, a draft law proposing the death penalty for child rape and the intentional transmission of the virus was released this week.
Pretoria - Any person infected with a life-threatening sexually-transmissible disease who failed to disclose that to his or her partner before having sex will be guilty of rape, the South African Law Commission (SALC) said on Tuesday. At a news conference in Pretoria the commission released a report containing its final recommendations on the law relating to sexual offences, as well as a draft Bill on Sexual Offences. In its draft Children's Bill, also released on Tuesday, the SALC recommended that children of all ages be provided with confidential access to condoms. According to the draft bill on sexual offences, prostitution by children or mentally impaired people should be decriminalised in certain circumstances. These included where children benefited from child prostitution, like siblings in a child-headed household. However, the draft legislation called for the explicit criminalisation and severe penalties of all role-players involved in the prostitution of children and mentally impaired people. All offences under the proposed legislation should also be made applicable to South Africans travelling abroad, the SALC said. Medical care In another far-reaching recommendation, the commission said the state should provide appropriate medical care, treatment and counselling for people who had sustained physical, psychological or other injuries due to an alleged sexual offence. The SALC proposed the abolition of the cautionary rule whereby evidence by complainants in sexual offence cases and children should or could be treated with caution. It mooted the creation of a category of vulnerable witnesses - including all complainants and child witnesses in sexual offence cases. That status would entail new protective measures, including the appointment of a support person to assist the witness during pre-trial procedures and the trial. The draft bill also provided for increased penalties for those who identified complainants and witnesses in sexual offences cases or who unlawfully published information in this regard.(Source: News24.com, 21/01/2003)