Law proposes reduction of consensual sex age from 18 to 16

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Harriet Kaveta

Harriet Kaveta testifying in a case in which her boyfriend has been charged with defiling her while she was a 17 year old, She told the court she willingly slept with the accused who is now her husband. /FILE

Should the age of consensual defilement be reduced from eighteen years to sixteen? Well, the goverment thinks so.

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This amendment to the Sexual Offences Act is hidden in the The Statue Law (Miscellaneous Amendment Bill) 2016.

If the amendments are passed, teenagers aged 16 years can have consensual sex.

Even though rights campaigners who advocate for the rights of the girl child are up in arms against the amendment, Federation of Women Lawyers chairperson Josephine Mong’are told the Star that the amendment seeks to protect the boy child.

“The boy child has become the unintended victim of the Sexual Offences Act. A lot of teenagers are in relationships without their parents knowledge.

If the girl’s mother does not like the fact that you have a boyfriend, they go to the police station and claim rape or defilement.” Monga’re told the Star on phone.

Mong’are who led a team in coming up with the amendment says it is a move aimed at introducing Romeo and Juliet clauses in the act.

Romeo and Juliet laws and clauses concern young adults or teenagers who are a few years apart and have willingly had sexual relations.

The provisions concern incidents in which younger individuals have passed the age of puberty.

“The amendments have nothing to do with protecting predators. If the amendments are passed, they will enable magistrates have the ability to make a decision in determining if this was a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship as opposed to it being presented as a defilement case,” Mong’are added.

An investigator in the Child Protection Unit who did not wish to be named welcomed the amendments, adding that it will make it easier for them to investigate such cases as some parents are taking advantage of the Act.

“You find that most of the time the girl is being forced to report the matter to the police basically because the parents do not like her boyfriend. This in turn makes it hard for investigators to collect factual information about the said relationship because the girl is not telling the truth owing to pressure she is getting from her parents.” the source said.

The bill has already been tabled for the first reading, and is now under the departmental committee on Justice and Legal Affairs for consideration who will thereafter report to the house.

Kenyans have until 27th December to give their views on the matter.

-the-star.co.ke

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