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Laws regarding child sexual abuse

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Title: Laws regarding child sexual abuse  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Sex and the law, Estimates of sexual violence, Causes of sexual violence, Child pornography, Human trafficking
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Laws regarding child sexual abuse

Laws against child sexual abuse vary by country based on the local definition of who is a child and what constitutes child sexual abuse. Most countries in the world employ some form of age of consent, with sexual contact with an underage person being criminally penalized. As the age of consent to sexual behaviour varies from country to country, so too do definitions of child sexual abuse.[1] An adult's sexual intercourse with a minor below the legal age of consent may sometimes be referred to as statutory rape,[2][3] based on the principle that any apparent consent by a minor could not be considered legal consent.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is an international treaty that legally obligates nations to protect children's rights. Articles 34 and 35 of the CRC require states to protect children from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. This includes outlawing the coercion of a child to perform sexual activity, the prostitution of children, and the exploitation of children in creating pornography. States are also required to prevent the abduction, sale, or trafficking of children.[4] As of December 2014, 195 countries have ratified the Convention, including every member of the United Nations except the United States and South Sudan.[5][6]

In the United States

Child sexual abuse has been recognized specifically as a type of child maltreatment in U.S. federal law since the initial Congressional hearings on child abuse in 1973.[7] Child sexual abuse is illegal in every state,[8] as well as under federal law.[9] Among the states, the specifics of child sexual abuse laws vary, but certain features of these laws are common to all states.[10]


The Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Act, 2012 regarding child sexual abuse has been passed by the both the houses of the Indian Parliament in May 2012.[11] The Act came into force from 14 November 2012.[12]

In South Africa

The South African law on sexual offences was codified in the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act, 2007. Chapter 3 of the act deals with sexual offences against children. The act criminalises:

  • acts of sexual penetration with a child (statutory rape)
  • other sexual acts with a child (statutory sexual assault)
  • exploitation of children in prostitution
  • sexual grooming of children
  • showing pornography to children
  • using children in child pornography
  • compelling children to witness sexual acts
  • indecent exposure to children

The act establishes a National Register for Sex Offenders which lists people convicted of sexual offences against children and the mentally disabled.

In the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom rewrote its criminal code in the Sexual Offences Act of 2003. This Act includes definitions and penalties for child sexual abuse offences, and (so far as relating to offences) applies to England and Wales and Northern Ireland. The Scottish Law Commission published its review of rape and sexual offences in December 2007, which includes a similar consolidation and codification of child sexual abuse offences in Scotland.

In Yemen

In Yemen, the law does not define child abuse.[13]

In Zambia

A recent June 30, 2008 landmark decision by judge, Philip Musonda, of the Zambian High Court gave a minor girl-student 45 million Zambian Kwacha in awards after she brought her teacher to court for statutory rape. This is the first case of its kind for a minor to win against a person of authority in the nation of Zambia.[14]


  1. ^ Overview of the nature and extent of child sexual abuse in Europe
  2. ^
  3. ^ Black's Law Dictionary 8th Edition. child, "at common law, a person who has not reached the age of 14." See also definition under rape "carnal knowledge of a child is frequently declared to be rape by statute."
  4. ^ United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  5. ^ United Nations Treaty Collection. Convention on the Rights of the Child. Retrieved 21 May 2009.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974, (most recently reauthorized by Public Law No.108-36, (2003)).
  8. ^ State Statutes - Child Abuse and Neglect, Children's Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  9. ^ Index of Child Welfare Laws, Children's Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  10. ^ Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect, Summary of State Laws, National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ [1] Women News Network - WNN, "When a Girl Student Stands Up and Wins"
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