Submission on the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Bill, 2006
The ALP made a follow-up submission to the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development regarding the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Bill. The submission was made on 15 August 2006 based on a new draft version of the bill.
The ALP cannot support the present draft of the Bill, as we are of the opinion that it contains provisions which are unconstitutional and which undermine the rights of survivors of rape and sexual assault. However, we are supportive of the fact that, unlike earlier drafts, the Bill does not include provisions creating specific crimes relating to the wilful transmission of HIV, which our organisation opposes, for reasons set out in our previous submissions to the Portfolio Committee on Socio-Economic Development. We applaud the decision to remove these sections.
The arguments and recommendations in this submission are based on human rights considerations with an emphasis on women’s health and equality. Our submission focuses on the following two areas of the Bill:
- Chapter 5 of the current Bill that deals with the “services for victims of sexual offences and compulsory HIV testing of Sexual Offenders”.
- The definition of “pornography”.
In summary, we submit detailed arguments and recommendations under the following headings:
- PCR HIV-Tests
- We Argue for the provision, at state expense, of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) HIV-testing for all survivors of sexual assault (inlcuding but not limited to rape).
- Unlike other HIV tests, which have a window period of 3 weeks to 6 months, PCR tests can diagnose HIV within 11 days. PCR tests are now affordable, and can provide peace of mind and certainty to survivors who fear that they may have been exposed to HIV by rape or sexual assault.
- PCR tests are now affordable, and are already being used in state health care facilities.
- PCR tests should also be used if the provisions for the compulsory testing of alleged offenders are legislated.
- A Comprehensive package of care.
- We argue for the provision, at state expense, of a comprehensive package of care to all survivors of sexual assault.
- Designated public health establishments
- We argue for the removal of the requirement of designation for health care facilities to provide rape services, and the provisions of PEP services at all Health Care Facilities.
- Facilities which are not currently equipped to provide PEP should be able to provide at least a 3 day “starter pack” and a referral to the nearest facility offering full PEP services.
- Application for compulsory HIV testing of alleged offenders by survivors
- We raise concerns about the inclusion of such provisions in the absence of the provision of adequate counseling and support for survivors.
- We are also concerned that the provisions related to penalties for the misuse of of the compulsory testing creates the potential for secondary victimisation of the rape survivor.
- We suggest that teh privision of PCR tests to all survivors will provide the same peace of mind as would be obtained from testing the alleged perpetrator.
- Application for compusory HIV testing of alleged offenders by a police official
- We argue for removal of the sections that enable an official to apply for testing an alleged offender for HIV.
- Sexual and reproductive health education
- We propose the reworking of the definition of pornography so that it does not inhibit sex education and life skills programmes.