, NAIROBI, Dec 20 – As Kenya grapples with fighting Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) highly associated with early marriages, their efforts are likely to be watered down by a proposed amendment to the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendment) Bill 2016 that seeks to reduce the consensual sex age from 18 to 16 years.
Under the Kenyan law, a child is described as a person under 18 years, meaning that it is a criminal offence for anyone to engage in sexual activities with children which is condemned as rape under the statutory law.
If the new amendment is adopted, it will no longer be criminal to engage in sex with children above 16.
Looking at the country’s education system, children about the age of 16 are still in the early years of their secondary education, in what is likely to lead to high cases of school drop outs.
The amendment however, contradicts the marriage law which states that no person below the age of 18 will be allowed to marry, a provision likely to see girls impregnated and abandoned since they are not old enough for marriage.
The amendment has caused uproar among Kenyans who are questioning the motive behind the change of law.
The amendment has already gone through the first reading and is expected to be adopted or rejected before Christmas.
“What is the justification of allowing 16 year olds to engage in sex. They are still children and cannot know the dangers associated with the act. They are not mature enough to make a choice if they want or not,” Peris Mwakio, a mother of two children complained.
But for Jane Limo, a hair dresser operating in Nairobi, “it is selfish to have people thinking about sex when the country has so many other important things to that need to be fixed. It is a very mean decision and you wonder what that person who brought that amendment was thinking. What do they want by introducing a plan to expose young people to illicit sex at such a young age.”