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Filter: Abuse
Judge sets the standard by ordering therapy for child rape victim

15 June 2022

In light of Youth Day, it is important to reflect on the fact that in all matters relating to the... care, protection and wellbeing of a child, the child’s best interest is of paramount importance. Be that as it may, how often do we actually see the application of this notion in abuse cases? 

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Being hit where it hurts? What to do when you’re abused

20 June 2020,  Ilze Strydom

In President Cyril Ramaposa’s address to us this past week, it was profoundly moving to hear him speak about “another... pandemic that is raging in our country – the killing of women and children by the men of our country.”With no fewer than 21 women and children having been murdered over the past few weeks, he vehemently spoke out against the “violence being unleashed on women and children with a brutality that defies comprehension”.To do my bit to help our women and children fight back, I am writing today about the ways in which the legal system can protect and help victims of domestic violence. It seems that the Covid-19 pandemic and the movement restrictions coupled therewith, has escalated the the already unacceptable number of cases of gender-based violence not only in South Africa, but also across the rest of the globe. In an article in The New York Times, Amanda Taub states the following:“Add another public health crisis to the toll of the new coronavirus: Mounting data suggests that domestic abuse is acting like an opportunistic infection, flourishing in the conditions created by the pandemic.”The unfortunate truth is that no legal system, nor police action can change a person’s nature and cure the cause of abuse and violence. It can and does however, assist those who are fortunate enough to be able to report the abuse, and takes action against the perpetrators. The purpose of the Domestic Violence Act is to afford the victims of domestic violence the maximum protection from domestic abuse that the law can provide; and to introduce measures to ensure that the relevant organs of state give full effect to the provisions of this Act, and thereby to convey that the State is committed to the elimination of domestic violence – as Ramaphosa has reaffirmed.Importantly, for the Domestic Violence Act to apply to any given set of circumstances, the relationship in question must classify as a “Domestic Relationship” and the act in question must be one of Domestic Violence. Examples of domestic relationships according to the Act, are between:Parents (or guardians of children) and children;Children and grandparents; Family members related by consanguinity, affinity or adoption;Siblings and cousins;People who live together in the same residence or previously lived together in the same residence.Notice that the Act broadly defines “domestic violence” as being either physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, psychological, economic, or when taking the form of intimidation, stalking or harassment. I want to encourage our women and children who are being abused, to, where they are still in a position to do so, to immediately go to the nearest Magistrates’ Court to apply for a protection order, also known as an interim interdict, against the abuser – before it turns fatal. This is basically a Court Order that clearly sets out what the abuser must or must not do.  Once this order is granted it is of immediate effect and will it only be set aside once the Respondent (against whom the court order is granted) appears before the same court to set the order aside. This means that once you, as the Complainant. possess such a protection order, you have the power to have your abuser arrested the moment they commit any of the acts of domestic violence listed in your Protection Order. All you have to do should this happen, is to report the breach of the protection order to the nearest police station, at which stage the police must act immediately. If a victim of abuse prefers not to or is not able to apply for a Domestic Violence Protection Order, they can report the abuse directly to the police or any of the following help lines: SAPS Emergency Services:  10111Crime Stop: 08600 10111Domestic Violence Helpline: 0800 150 150Childline: 0800 055 555 In conclusion, I extend my thoughts and prayers to those who have suffered under abuse, and implore them and others to take action against abuse and allow the legal system to help them overcome the monster of abuse one step/order at a time. *Click here to read the entire Domestic Violence Act.

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Bishops boys don't cry, or do they?

22 October 2019,  Ilze Strydom

This past two weeks the media were abuzz with reports of Fiona Viotti, the Bishops Diocesan College water polo coach,... who resigned last week amid allegations of a sexual affair with a matric pupil. It was also reported that school principal Guy Pearson said that several boys "have been affected over a number of years".Interestingly enough, when speaking to a male friend of mine about the idea of a school boy having an affair with a female teacher, his view was an enthusiastic “attaboy!” To me, that’s in strong contrast with what would have been the view if a matric school girl allegedly had an affair with a male teacher - that instead, the girl is a victim of unacceptable behaviour, and that the teacher is a predator who used his position and relationship in an inappropriate manner.To my mind this highlights the difference in perspective society seems to have when it comes to sexually inappropriate behaviour towards women and children. Have you ever paused to considered that this is not bound by gender or age, and that men are exposed and left vulnerable to abuse and the effects thereof too? In the course of my experience as Family Law attorney, I’m constantly reminded that the Children’s Act does not distinguish between male and female children. In fact, it specifically provides therefor that children (thus any person younger than 18) must be protected from maltreatment, neglect, abuse or degradation, discrimination, exploitation and any other physical, emotional or moral harm or hazards. I find that this obviously includes protection against the behaviour alleged in the above-mentioned Bishops matter. Were the child younger than 16 years old, criminal prosecution would follow from the actions as well. When it’s a man of 18 years old and older that is placed in this position, the remedies he can take is to lay a criminal charge, obtain an interdict in accordance with the provisions of the Protection of Harassment Act, obtain an interdict in accordance with the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act (if applicable), lay a complaint of sexual harassment and/or institute civil action for damages suffered.This is a necessary reminder and encouragement to men and boys to speak out about inappropriate behaviour against them without fear of being perceived as weak, and to utilise the law to protect them from any form of abuse. 

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