Psycho-legal challenges facing the mentally retarded rape victim

Frikkie J W Calitz


Persons with mental retardation face multiple emotional, cognitive and social challenges. Mental health professionals increasingly agree that individuals with mental disabilities are more vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation than the general population. They are in particularly exposed to peril due to their often life-long dependence on caregivers, relatively powerless position in society, emotional and social insecurities, and lack of education regarding sexuality and sexual abuse. Shortcomings and discrepancies in the medical and legal definition of mental retardation, making the position of such individuals even more difficult, are discussed in this paper.

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Submitted: 12 November 2010
Published: 01 September 2011

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South African Journal of Psychiatry    |    ISSN: 1608-9685 (PRINT)    |    ISSN: 2078-6786 (ONLINE)