Articles

Reporting underage consensual sex after the Teddy Bear case: A different perspective

A E Strode, J D Toohey, C Slack, S Bhamjee

Abstract


Doctors and researchers face a complex dilemma regarding the mandatory reporting of consensual underage sex, because of contradictions between the Children’s Act and the Sexual Offences Act. When providing underage children with sexual and reproductive health services, they have had to decide whether to provide these confidentially, in terms of the Children’s Act, or thereafter report the consensual but illegal sexual behaviour to the police, in terms of the Sexual Offences Act. The recent Teddy Bear Clinic for Abused Children, and Resources Aimed at the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (RAPCAN) v. Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development case addressed whether consensual underage sex ought to be a criminal offence and thus reported. The court held that aspects of sections 15 and 16 of the Sexual Offences Act infringed on the constitutional rights of adolescents (aged 12 - 15 years) by proscribing many consensual sexual activities. McQuoid-Mason has described this case in detail. He submits that following the judgement, doctors are no longer under a reporting obligation in relation to consensual underage sex. We respectfully disagree. This article critiques McQuoid-Mason’s approach, sets out our views on the mandatory reporting obligations after the Teddy Bear case and concludes with some comments on the judgement’s implications for researchers and medical practitioners.


Authors' affiliations

A E Strode, School of Law, College of Law and Management Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

J D Toohey, HIV/AIDS Vaccines Ethics Group, School of Applied Human Sciences, College of Humanities, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

C Slack, HIV/AIDS Vaccines Ethics Group, School of Applied Human Sciences, College of Humanities, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

S Bhamjee, School of Law, College of Law and Management Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

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Keywords

Underage consensual sex; Mandatory reporting; Sexual and reproductive health services; Illegal sexual behaviour

Cite this article

South African Journal of Bioethics and Law 2013;6(2):45-47. DOI:10.7196/SAJBL.289

Article History

Date submitted: 2013-09-19
Date published: 2013-10-24

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