Defilement is where a person (offender) performs a sexual act with a child (victim).

A child under the law is a person that is below 18 years of age. Offenders that can be arrested and charged: adult (18 years and above). It is assumed by law that a child of 12 years and below cannot be capable of knowing the difference between right and wrong and should therefore not be held criminally responsible.

Consent to the sexual act and/or someone not getting pregnant are not defenses. In cases of defilement, issues of consent and pregnancy are irrelevant. This means that whether one has agreed to it or has not ended up pregnant is not a defence. The sexual act itself is seen as a crime by law.

Already the attempt to commit defilement is an offence and therefore punishable. So where one tries to perform a sexual act with a child (below 18 years) and does not succeed, the matter can still be reported to police and the culprit arrested and convicted if found guilty.

Defilement can be classified by the law into 2 different categories

This is based on the specific age of the child and special circumstances surrounding the persons involved in the sexual act. These forms are highlighted and discussed below;

1. (Simple) Defilement:

The sexual intercourse between an adult and a child above 14 years which is a an offence whereof the adult is liable on conviction, to imprisonment for 18 years.

2. Aggravated Defilement:

Defilement is aggravated if the adult performs sexual intercourse with a very young child (between days old to 14 years) or these other special circumstances are prevalent:

  1. Where the offender (adult) is HIV positive or AIDS;
  2. Where the offender is a blood relative to the victim and/or is in authority over the child e.g. a parent, an uncle, aunt etc.
  3. Where the offender is a person with authority over the victim e.g. a teacher
  4. Where the victim (child) is a person with a disability e.g.  Physical disability, deaf, speech impairment/ disability, mental health conditions etc.
  5. Where the offender is a serial offender i.e. has committed the offence more than once.

These circumstances are taken to be severe and therefore carry a more serious punishment which is a maximum sentence of death.

Please keep always in mind: