SOCIAL JUSTICE MANDATE : LEGISLATE SEXUAL OFFENCES AGAINST CHILDREN AS A CAPITAL #GerhardAckerman FOUND GUILTY
The World Health Organisation estimates that globally up to 1 billion children aged 2 – 17 years have experienced physical, sexual, or emotional violence or neglect in the past year. In South Africa, 1 out of 5 children are victims of sexual abuse. The data may not be the true reflection of the impact, and this is owing to the lack of reporting especially when the perpetrator is known to the child, which is often the case.
Gerhard Ackerman has been found guilty of over 700 counts including rape, sexual grooming, possession of child pornography, and sexual exploitation of children. With the world moving towards a more digitally inclined era, it is no surprise that most of the charges against Ackerman relate to unlawful possession and creation of child pornography.
Moreover, Ackerman used social media to lure young teenage boys to traffic them for sexual services to an extensive list of clients. According to The Disrupting Harm in South Africa report, between to 7 – 9% of South African children aged between 9 and 17 have experienced online sexual exploitation and abuse.
Sexual offences against children in South Africa should be legislated as a capital crime. South Africa has one of the highest rape statistics in the world with an estimate of 115 rapes per day.
Whilst we acknowledge the power dynamics behind rape; that this motion is not preventative in nature, we are also of the opinion that the Correctional Services’ budget is wasted on resources to ‘rehabilitate’ perpetrators that can and should never be reintegrated back into society.
In the same breath, we encourage programs and initiatives which seek to alter dysfunctional patterns of behaviour bred by the archaic socialisation of boys and girls. There is no quick fix or one way to curb the scourge of violence against children, but it must be met with the highest contempt it instructs.