"I Was Sexually Assaulted When I Was Young and I Want to Pursue Justice": Legal Expert Advises

"I Was Sexually Assaulted When I Was Young and I Want to Pursue Justice": Legal Expert Advises

  • A 25-year-old woman was sexually assaulted times by her relative when she was a child
  • She is an adult now, and she wants to report him but is not sure if she can open a case
  • Legal expert Dr Sheena Swemmer explained what steps the woman can take legally
Anonymous wrote: “I was sexually assaulted when I was young by a family member multiple times. I am now 25. Can I still open a case against the family member and pursue justice even though I was sexually assaulted as a girl?”
A woman was sexually assaulted as a child and wants to know if she can report the perpetrator
A woman who was sexually assaulted as a child asked for legal advice. Image: Arlette BASHIZI for The Washington Post via Getty Images (Image for illustration purposes only)
Source: Getty Images

Legal expert says the incident can be reported

Dr Sheena Swemmer heads the Gender Justice programme at Wits University's Centre for Applied Legal Studies. She is a human rights attorney and researcher specialising in gender-based violence, the law, and children and animal rights.

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Speaking to Briefly News, Dr Sheena Swemmer said the survivor can report the case anytime.

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“There is no limitation in SA in reporting sexual offence cases. The individual can report and SAPS must open a case and investigate,” she said.

Victims can claim for damage up to 3 years after the incident

Dr Swemmer said that a sexual assault case could be reported at any time and that victims could pursue damages claims against the perpetrator for up to three years if they can prove that the reason they did not seek damages before was that they were either a minor, a person with a mental or intellectual disability or any other factor the court may deem appropriate.

“It’s important for survivors to know that rape cases take a long time to get through the system. There is no guarantee that the perpetrator will be found guilty, but this does not mean he did not commit the crime. Instead this means the state failed to prove to the court that the evidence shows he committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.”

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Sentence the perpetrator could face

Swemmer added that if the perpetrator is found guilty, he will be given 10 years imprisonment according to the Criminal Law Act unless he can prove that this should be lowered. She also advised individuals to approach a Thuthuzela Care Centre to be assisted with everything from reporting the case to supporting the victim.

Disclaimer: Advice given in this article is general and is not the views of Briefly News. It is not intended to influence a reader's decisions. Readers are advised to seek professional help before making any decisions.

Do you have a question you would like to ask a legal expert? Email us at contact@briefly.co.za with 'Ask an Expert' in the subject line

Relationship expert advises woman caught with Tinder profile

In a previous article, Briefly News wrote that a woman's husband's best friend caught her with a Tinder profile, and her husband wanted a divorce.

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Relationship expert Penny Holburn told the woman that this could be considered an emotional affair, which an emotional need may have caused.

She advised the woman to try to work the relationship out if it was once in a good place.

Source: Briefly News

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