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Prescription on Civil and Criminal matters (Sexual Offences) Amendment Bill: Law does nothing to proactively prevent violence against women and children

Prevention is better than cure and the Prescription on Civil and Criminal matters Amendment Bill, which aims to specifically curb violence against women and children, does not achieve this objective.

South Africa currently finds itself in yet another serious pandemic that mainly targets women and children. It is a pandemic of sexual offences and violence.

Recent statistics indicate that 52 420 sexual offences occurred in the country in 2019 – an increase of 4,6% from 2018. It is evident that the criminal justice system does not have effective preventative measures in place for this type of crime.

It is important to note that amending the statutory provisions relating to the prescriptions on the civil and criminal prosecution of sexual offences will not cure the disease of violence against women and children.

It is merely treating the symptoms by affording victims the opportunity to be compensated and ensuring that offenders can still be prosecuted even after a long period of time has lapsed.

It offers indirect protection to children who were the victims of any sexual offences by allowing them to seek justice years later. This Amendment Bill is indeed a step in the right direction, but unfortunately, it is entirely reactive in nature.

The time has come for South Africa to come up with proactive solutions and legislative frameworks that focus on and treat the root causes of violence against women and children.

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