NON-DISCLOSURE OF HIV STATUS MAY SOON CONSTITUTE RAPE

Monday, June 26, 2006
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 NON-DISCLOSURE OF HIV STATUS MAY SOON CONSTITUTE RAPE
Applications made to broaden the Criminal Law Sexual Offences Act
 
Sexually active, HIV positive South Africans may soon be held accountable for rape if they do not disclose their status to their sexual partner. This follows a recent submission by the Law Commission and the South African Council of Churches (SACC) who propose that present legislation be amended and should include within its ambit the penalization of non-disclosure of a person’s HIV status to constitute rape.
 
“An act of penetration is deemed to be unlawful if committed under false pretences or in respect of a person who is incapable of appreciating the nature of the act” says Tinyiko Ribisi, Candidate Attorney at Bowman Gilfillan. Ribisi continues, “It is being proposed that if a person is infected by a life-threatening sexually transmissible infection without their knowledge, that this should constitute rape”
 
“Even if the recipient is HIV positive, re-infection and repeated exposure to the virus will place the individual in a more precarious position with regard to their health” says Ribisi. “However, Nikki Taylor of the Women’s Legal Centre in Cape Town has argued that by adopting the recommendations of the SACC, this would deter people from being tested as this would possibly place criminal liability on the offender if they were to not disclose their status”.
 
“South Africa’s Constitution provides for rights of privacy regarding your HIV status” says Ribisi, 
 
"However, no case law to date supports the SACC’s proposition at this time” concludes Ribisi.
 

Issued by:                     Jane Steinacker
                                    Tel: (011) 783 8222
                                    E-mail: jane@mbpublicity.co.za
 
On behalf of:                  Tinyiko Ribisi
                                    Candidate Attorney
                                    Bowman Gilfillan Attorney