This week adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 became able to get vaccinated at government and private vaccination sites without their parents' consent. This has sparked a debate about the Children's Act and the relationship between children's rights and parents' responsibilities and rights.
Now that Covid-19 vaccination of children in South Africa is starting, it is essential that the law on who can give consent is well understood by parents, carers and, most importantly, the adolescents themselves.
What does the law say?
We all have a right to decide what happens to our bodies. Section 12 of the Constitution says everyone has a "right to bodily and psychological integrity" which includes the right to make decisions concerning medical treatment and the right not to be subjected to medical procedures or scientific experiments without their informed consent.
The right to physical and psychological integrity in the context of health is about being the ultimate decision-maker when it comes to what you would allow to be done to your body. Consent plays a significant role in the realisation of the right to physical and psychological integrity because it allows an individual to make decisions about their body, such as getting...