EvidenceProf Blog

Editor: Colin Miller
Univ. of South Carolina School of Law

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Secondary Abuse? South Africa Might Change How Child Sexual Assault Victims Testify

Last week, I reported that Australia was amending its Evidence Code to allow child and sexual assault victims to give their testimony in narrative form.  Now, it appears that South Africa may be following suit.

According to The Mercury, three children's rights organisations are leading the fight against the country's Criminal Procedure Act, which forces child sexual assault victims to be subjected to cross-examination and face their attackers.  Apparently, this fight was started by Pretoria high Court Judge Eberhard Bertelsmann, after presiding over a case involving two men who had allegedly raped children.  Bertelsmann was concerned that subjecting child sexual assault victims to the adversarial process was not in their best interests, and apparently a case study by Children First has interesting results about the "secondary abuse" suffered by such children as a result of the adversarial judicial process.

As with the change in Australia, these potential changes should be interesting to track to see if similar changes could be adopted in the U.S. court system.



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