In Summary
  • In March this year, a ruling was made to consider changing the Sexual Offences Act, citing lengthy jail terms on those convicted.
  • The ruling prompted protests from parents, religious leaders, human and women’s rights activists who opposed the proposal that they considered uncalled for.

In March this year, three appellate judges caused a storm when they proposed that the law be reviewed to lower the age of consent from 18 to 16 years.

Judges Roselyn Nambuye, Daniel Musinga and Patrick Kiage ruled that time was ripe for Kenya to consider changing the Sexual Offences Act, citing lengthy jail terms imposed on young men convicted of defilement.

MORAL DECAY

At the same time, the judges reversed a 15-year sentence that a man was serving for making a 17-year-old girl pregnant.

The ruling prompted protests from parents, religious leaders, human and women’s rights activists who opposed the proposal that they considered uncalled-for.

All those opposed to the judges’ proposal of lowering the age of consent were of the view that it would worsen moral decay in the society.

It is against this backdrop that Community Advocacy and Awareness Trust (CRAWN Trust) launched a campaign aimed at safeguarding the age of sexual consent.

As a climax of their campaign, the organisation, on Monday, held a consultative forum in Nairobi, which brought together parents, religious leaders, doctors, MPs, the media, human rights and gender activists and education officials to deliberate on the matter.

INFORMED CONSENT

According to the organisation, the campaign is aimed at protecting children from sexual abuse and the consequences of early sexual activity.

They argued that the “simple yes” given by a child (a person under 18 years) should not be taken to mean it is informed consent.

“The proposal to reduce the age of consent is thus ill-advised, illegal, and unconstitutional and should not be implemented,” said Lilian Kang’ethe, programmes manager at CRAWN Trust.

The organisation says the advisory by the appellate court sought to protect ‘young men’ who are adults between the ages of 18 and 21 years.

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