Masutane Modjadji

Are we encouraging minor sex through legislation?

Masutane Modjadji
Masutane Modjadji

By Masutane Modjadji

When news of the Pretoria High Court’s ruling on parts of the Sexual Offences Act were made public on Tuesday, I was left gasping for air. I acknowledged the good intentions behind the judgement, but for me the negatives of it far out-weigh the positives it means to push forward.

The are so many things that parents fight daily to protect their children from. Sex is just one of those things. I fail to imagine a 12 year old girl that possess enough maturity to consent to sex. At that age most girls are not assertive enough to give a firm NO that won’t be interpreted as a shy ‘yes’ by another horny teenager.

Others have argued that many young kids don’t have enough intelligence to know about this legislation. It only takes a small percentage of smart and enlightened kids to spread the message. We live in an age where kids are educated on the bill of rights and encouraged to take interest in current affairs, coupled with the high consumption of social networking among kids such news won’t escape their attention for too long. My point of concern in many households where sex topics are a taboo, kids get their education from the street.

Yes, sadly minors engage in illicit sex behaviours all the time, mostly out of curiosity. What the legislation did for me was to hand a free pass to teens to have sex. Rather than discourage such behaviour I find that legislation is encouraging it. Should we leave it up a 12 year old girl to discover the consequences of being sexually active, I wonder.

When I was growing up my peers made sex look cool. No one talks about the implications. Many kids would ‘experiment’ on sex if they thought it was legal or alright. Hundreds more would be influenced to be sexually active if they didn’t have strict parents who prevented them.

The case left me with so many questions than answers. Do we fix a small hole on a tank full of water by punching in a bigger hole and let all the water run out? Or do we investigate ways we can block the leak and preserve some of that water?

Parents are still needed to sign consent forms for their minor children on issues that can change children’s lives greatly. If we believe that parents know best, how then do we leave in the hands of a minor to make a decision that can be life defining?

If ever there was a court ruling I found flawed and immoral, this one is exactly that.


2 thoughts on “Are we encouraging minor sex through legislation?”

  1. While I agree with you that a 12 year-old may not be mature enough to make a decision regarding sex, the criminalising of sexual acts between teenagers is really out of touch with reality and more likely to do harm than good. Trying to reduce the harmful consequences of sex requires a different approach and really more heart than stick. Counselling, sex education etc is more likely to help children make the best decisions for themselves. Anyway, do kids really care about laws? Pierre de Vos says it best:

    I was more offended by headlines that said things like “green light for teenage sex” – this distorts the message that was trying to be sent by the NGOs involved in the court case. Decriminalising sex does NOT mean that these NGOs are giving kids the go-ahead to have sex, but is simply seeking to reduce the negative consequences of being arrested.

    I could go on forever about this but I have one last comment: kissing and touching is pretty normal behaviour and sex does not have to be harmful between children, if it is done in the way mentioned in the Daily Maverick article:“behaviour that is mutually consensual, wanted, desired, non-violent, safe (in terms of using methods to minimise risks of STI transmission and pregnancy), and for which the individual feels emotionally and physically ready.”

    The grey area, of course, is whether 12 can be considered an age when all of the above apply.


  2. ”Do we fix a small hole on a tank full of water by punching in a bigger hole and let all the water run out?”

    THANK YOU! This is exactly what I’ve been saying. We need to be stricter. What happened to the good old days of an ‘opsitkers’ where the parents allowed dating but only when it happens in their presence?


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