Sex rogues must be made to pay

OVER the years there have been many reports of child molestation and sexual abuse.

The perpetrators are usually family members; family friends or men who are able to lure girl children through various social networks, including social settings outside family or school and the Internet.

Recently the spotlight fell on male teachers and school principals who rape pupils.

Public schools witness a large number of teenage pregnancies. While pupils from poor backgrounds are vulnerable to various forms of exploitation (slavery, child labour, prostitution) in exchange for money, food or even alcohol, more and more male teachers have identified this vulnerability in their pupils and have seen it fit to benefit themselves.

I would like to know what has happened in cases where the father of a baby is the teacher of the under-aged mother. Does his family approach the girl's family with respect to damages?

Some families enter into ilobola negotiations with regards to their under-aged daughters. Does he support the baby financially? Does he become a part of the baby's life as a father?

The law requires a man who has sex with a girl younger than 16 years to be prosecuted, whether the victim wishes to lay a charge or not. Paedophiles manipulate their victims into believing they are equal partners in the act, while the male has a disproportionate amount of power over the child.

While these men violate a number of constitutional rights of their victims, including the right to freedom and security of the person - human dignity and the child's right to be protected from maltreatment, neglect, abuse or degradation - they also infringe on the girls' right to education.

This undermines the future prospects of the child as in some cases mothers are forced to leave school where there is no money to hire day care for the baby.

They are not forced out of school because they have been ostracised, because teen pregnancy at school has unfortunately become a norm through its prevalence.

Education is the most powerful tool to get out of the clutches of poverty, so when a child living in poverty is manipulated into waiving her right to access to education, the cyclic nature of poverty advances.

As part of a judgment against a statutory rapist, he must be forced to pay for the baby's maintenance (where there is one) and pay for the mother to pursue her education, including tertiary education.

The society we live in also plays a role in enabling child rape.

Girls who should be home doing weekend homework are found drinking alcohol at social gatherings, courtesy of their much, much older companions.

We pretend not to see it as it happens, then casually discuss it over lunch.

Many parents are aware of their young daughters' behaviour and believe that they are old enough to know right from wrong.

Parents need to be made aware of the powerful manipulation by paedophiles and peer pressure that girl children are exposed to. Once they are aware that the child is a victim of a crime, more parents will approach the justice system that is there to protect the vulnerable groups of society. Poor parents particularly have to be educated in this regard and must be made aware that the justice system is there for them as it is for any other person.

lNojekwa is a researcher at the Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute