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Making sex offenders register public will give only 'false sense of security'

One of the measures put forward by President Cyril Ramaphosa in his pre-recorded address to the nation on Thursday evening to address the epidemic of violence against women and children, is to overhaul the national register for gender-based violence offenders.

This includes asking Parliament to make the register public.

RELATED: [WATCH] Violence against women is not a woman's problem - Ramaphosa

But would this really have an impact?

Activist and researcher Lisa Vetten says the problem is too urgent for the state to be investing time and money in measures that research shows are not effective.

There is no research in the countries where public sex offenders registers have been created, that they've had any effect whatsoever.

Lisa Vetten, Research associate - Wits Institute For Social Economic Research

It is one of those measures that gives us a sense of security, that looks and seems in terms of our common sense to make a difference, but I think it's a measure that gives us false security because ultimately it doesn't work.

Lisa Vetten, Research associate - Wits Institute For Social Economic Research

She emphasizes that the register itself has a place, in terms of alerting those who employ others to work with children and people with intellectual disabilities to offenders in these categories.

Why the Law Commission didn't extend this more broadly is because there isn't a lot of evidence for these measures having broader impact.

Lisa Vetten, Research associate - Wits Institute For Social Economic Research

So we would be putting a lot of time, a lot of money, a lot of human resources into something that simply does not work.

Lisa Vetten, Research associate - Wits Institute For Social Economic Research

On the calls for introducing chemical castration of rapists, Vetten has this to say:

The fundamental point is that the act of rape is not an act of uncontrollable, excessive hormone production. It is a problem of what goes on inside your head.

Lisa Vetten, Research associate - Wits Institute For Social Economic Research

This problem is far too serious and far too urgent for us to be wasting time and money on things that don't work, although they make us feel better.

Lisa Vetten, Research associate - Wits Institute For Social Economic Research

Among the priority areas that could have more of an impact she says are getting proper statistics and researching them to determine patterns of behaviour and finding out why protection orders are not working.

Listen to the thought-provoking conversation here:


This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Making sex offenders register public will give only 'false sense of security'


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