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Child vulnerability to sexual exploitation is on the increase, says Molo Songololo

Molo Songololo director Patric Solomons said the organisation’s experience indicates that perpetrators use deception and manipulation over time, and eventual sexual grooming, sexual assault, rape, and sexual exploitation. Picture: African News Agency(ANA)

Molo Songololo director Patric Solomons said the organisation’s experience indicates that perpetrators use deception and manipulation over time, and eventual sexual grooming, sexual assault, rape, and sexual exploitation. Picture: African News Agency(ANA)

Published Mar 15, 2022

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Cape Town - Following its engagements with various stakeholders in Atlantis, Delft, and Beaufort West, child rights organisation Molo Songololo said child vulnerability to sexual exploitation had increased.

The organisation said minors were groomed, manipulated and forced into sexual exploitation by men and boys they knew and were made to have sex in exchange for something.

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It says reports of children as young as 10 years old being impregnated had been received.

This as a prominent Mitchells Plain businessman, Aneez Brandt, charged with abduction and rape of a 13-yearold girl from Uitsig, appeared in the Goodwood Magistrate’s Court yesterday. In her affidavit, the survivor’s mother identified Brandt as a family friend as he was a close friend of the minor’s late father.

In his response to the court during his appearance, Brandt said he had been kind to the family and that he had assisted them financially.

Molo Songololo director Patric Solomons said the organisation’s experience of such cases indicated that perpetrators used deception and manipulation over time, and eventual sexual grooming, sexual assault, rape, and sexual exploitation.

He said this was more common than was reported, charged, and prosecuted.

Solomons said the negative impact of Covid-19, which resulted in a loss of income, and increased unemployment, poverty, and food insecurity, would almost certainly increase risks for children.

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“There are parents who unknowingly encourage their children to engage with these men, even when their children make it clear that they are uncomfortable and don’t like them. Others simply turn a blind eye, like so many of us who do not call out these perpetrators when they behave inappropriately in public or at home with our children,” he said.

The Western Cape Commissioner for Children, Christina Nomdo, said children under the age of 12 needed greater protection from risks to their safety.

“When we get information that 10-year-old girls are pregnant, this is the result of a criminal act. The perpetrators need to be brought to book.

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“Once children reach 12 years, they accede to many autonomous rights. In this adolescent life phase, children must have trustworthy adults in their lives who can guide and support them to make important life decisions. They need information about all aspects of life to navigate the world,” she said.

Nomdo said comprehensive sexual education and non-judgemental reproductive health services could also act as good protection against early pregnancies.

“The term ‘teenage pregnancy’ is a stigmatising one that is intended to blame and shame.

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“As adults, we need to move beyond stigmatising and taboos to becoming real resources in the lives of adolescents – so that they are supported when they make mistakes, and can fulfil their potential and attain their dreams,” she said.

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Cape Argus

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