Community perceptions of child sexual assault : case study of Ngangelizwe community in Mthatha.
Mphatheni, Mandlenkosi Richard.
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Numerous studies have been done on child sexual violence/abuse (CSV/A). Sexual victimization of minors remains a constant problem globally. Section 28(1) (d) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act 108 of 1996 (South Africa, 1996) provides that every child has the right to be safeguard from ill-treatment, desertion, exploitation and degradation. November 2014 marked the 25th anniversary of the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). On this occasion, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) called on the South African government to once again prioritise children’s rights as a key government agenda, to commit to its obligations under the CRC, to uphold the promise made to South Africa’s children by the late Nelson Mandela, and to heed his powerful words: “History will judge us by the differences we make in the everyday lives of children”. In-depth interviews were conducted with 20 community members of Ngangelizwe Township in Mthatha, Eastern Cape province. The interviews were held in the period August 2016 - September 2016. The aim of the investigation was to determine the social, biological, and psychological effects of child sexual offences on children and as well as their parents, families, and the community at large. The study explored the authentic views of Township people, as there is limited scholarly literature on child sexual abuse and particularly on the experiences of Township residents of this atrocious act. Community members shared their views on the effects of child sexual assault, and there was common agreement that the sexual abuse of a child destroys the psychological and physical well-being not only of the child, but also of the parents. Sexually abused children show signs of depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, mental disturbance, and post-traumatic stress disorder. They also lose focus at school and they often isolate themselves from other children. These children lose trust not only in the person who sexually abused them, but in all older people, as it is usually adults who perpetrate this crime. Sexually abused children experience memory loss, always live in fear, and experience anxiety disorders long after the event.