Sexual offenders are deplorable. They strip innocent victims of dignity and a sense of self-worth. Offenders are sometimes administered punishment for the crime by way of jail time or fine. In other instances the perpetrator's misdeeds go unobserved. The offender benefits from the victim's unwillingness to report because of shame or for fear of repercussion. The recurrence of sexual offences across the world point out the urgent need to make an effort to tighten the sex offender laws as a way of deterring the perpetrators from committing the offence.
In order to get a clear understanding about the topic, it is important to begin by defining the term sexual offence. A sex offence is abuse which involves obtaining sexual pleasure from an unwilling person. There are different forms of sexual abuse which include but are not limited to sexual intercourse, fondling, juvenile prostitution, and sexual exploitation through child pornography. Child sexual abuse occurs when a child is used for sexual purposes by an adult; it is one of the most widespread forms of sexual abuse. It is a blatant betrayal of trust and an abuse of power over the child which cannot consent to sex. Commonly, the perpetrators of these sexual offences are males. Intensifying sex offender laws and the enforcement of such laws would discourage the delinquent to act on urges for fear of severe consequences.
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But wait! Aren't sex offenders entitled to the same civil liberties as everyone else? The answer to this question isn't black and white. In the United States, our judicial system takes care to be both rational and effective; Clauses like 'due processes insure that individual's get a fair and speedy trail with penalties that are proportionate to the crime committed. However, any amount of jail time or sentence seems to pale in comparison to the ordeal the target of a sex crime has to endure for the rest of their life.
Research has shown that most sexual offences are committed by members of the lowest socio-economic classes. Also, these people usually share a relatively low standard of education. E.H. Robinson (1989) observes that cases of sexual abuse are out of control in poor communities and they often go unnoticed or reported. The lack of proper education combined with a high number of broken families in some cases is cause for serious concern with regards to the rising number of sexual abuse cases. The family institution should form an atmosphere which is morally and intellectually sound. This is to develop the full potential of the child and give it values and a sense of belonging. It is with this concept in mind that protection of the rights of children is given utmost recognition, even internationally. Principle 2 of The Declaration of The Rights of The Child proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 20 November 1959 states that:
The child shall enjoy special protection and shall be given opportunities and facilities, by law and by other means to enable him to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity.
In this regard, laws against sex offenders should be made stricter so that the issue of child sexual abuse is mimicking those of international bodies. Hence, the enactment of laws shall always be in the best interest of the child. There are varying jails terms for sexual offenders depending on the magnitude of the offence in the US but the perpetrator will ultimately be released while the live of an innocent person would have been ruined for good.
Sexual offenders usually commit these crimes under the influence of alcohol. Excessive consumption weakens the person's ability to have self control and in some cases increases aggression. Unmarried man usually commit sexual offences more frequently than married men who are able to satisfy their sexual urge. According to the United Nations report based on the study of "Violence against Children" (2006), more than 200 million children have been sexually abused the world over and it blames this gloomy picture on alcohol abuse. However, some cases of child sexual abuse are usually hidden crimes as most cases often go unreported.
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Both the victim and adult may be reluctant to report the case of abuse for fear of victimization or other reasons. A sense of humiliation or ridicule may also be attached to cases of abuse resulting in them going undocumented. In most cases of child sexual abuse, the offender is often not a stranger, but may be a close relation to the victim. Where the family unit has broken, usually the remaining children are put under the custody of a relative. These trusted relatives are usually the perpetrators of sexual abuse. In terms of kinship that exists between the offender and the victim, such cases of abuse often go unreported because of a fear of causing the breakage of the bond that exists.
Some men commit sexual offences as a result of their traditional beliefs. In some sections of the society, it is believed that having sex with a minor is a form of cure for HIV/Aids infections. Some people have beliefs that sleeping with a minor is a source of fortune. Other sexual offenders commit indecent acts with young children with or without their consent upon provision of money or gifts. Children are also threatened or exposed to other forms of physical and psychological coercion. However, statutory provisions of many countries the world over clearly state that it is an offence to have sex with any person under the age of 16. Children below this age cannot give informed consent to sexual activity because they cannot fully understand the subject and its consequences. The consequences of sexual abuse are terrible. In most cases it results in demoralizing and traumatic experience for the minor. Public health is also endangered by the increase in transmittable sexual diseases. Notable to this are the effects of HIV/AIDS pandemic that has ravaged across the whole globe.
Some people believe that women and even young girls tempt men by the kind of dress they wear. While women do have the freedom of choice when it comes to dressing, some kinds of attire can be considered provocative. Nonetheless, should a person's pick of garments condone the unwanted sexual attention from another? Provocative dressing such as wearing of miniskirts has been blamed for some cases of rape. Dr. N. Faulkner in his research article entitled, 'Adult-child sex: Abuse or Misuse', (1997-2006) quotes a New York Times article by Frank Bruni who wrote about assigning child responsibility in adult-child sex. In his article "In an Age of Consent, Defining Abuse by Adults," (1997), one highly publicized adult-child sex cases shows that some children might be responsible for sex with an adult in some cases thus the justification for replacing the term "sexual abuse." An example from his article was a 13-year-old male student who was reportedly sexually abused by his 35-year-old female teacher. The teacher pleaded guilty to sexual abuse; but the young student defended her in court when he said he initiated the adult-child sex. In this case, Bruni suggests that placing full blame on the adult 'negates' a teenager's own responsibility of initiating the whole story. Some children initiate the act of sex with the adults but the question that still stands is; 'are the adults not supposed to be the custodians of socially accepted moral values?'
Over and above, it can be noted that sexual offence is still widespread in many sectors of the society and has had many negative effects. To combat the behavior of the sex offenders, sex education is vital to all areas of the general public to enlighten people on the dangers of indiscriminate sexual contact and the problems of diseases related to sex. Above all, sex offender laws should be stricter and punitive measures should be put in place so as to control this appalling practice which devastates the lives of countless innocent victims. Moral values need to be entrenched in the societal values as this would breach the gap between what is right and what is just.