Delaying Pre-trial Therapy to Child Victims of Sexual Abuse: An Unfounded Prevailing Culture in South Africa?

in The International Journal of Children's Rights
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Due to the statutory obligation to report child sexual abuse to the authorities, children in South Africa are increasingly called to testify in criminal proceedings. A recent qualitative study found that South African parents and social workers are often advised by legal professionals to postpone pre-trial therapy (therapy provided to child witnesses prior to testimony) until after the child’s testimony, based on concerns that therapy could contaminate the child’s version of events, and might ultimately lead to an acquittal of the accused. In this study, the authors analysed selected authoritative documents to explore whether or not any directives exist in respect of the provision of pre-trial therapy to child victims of sexual abuse in South Africa. Our findings suggest that none of the authoritative documents included in our document review specifically mention the rendering of pre-trial therapy to child victims of sexual abuse. Recommendations for policy reform and research are made.



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