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Reduction of age for sexual consent to 16 scrapped – Duale

This follows outrage from MPs who said it risks exposing the country’s teenagers to sexual exploitation/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 1 – National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale has committed to have the controversial amendment law proposing the reduction of the age for consenting to sex from 18 to 16 years withdrawn from the Statute Miscellaneous Amendment Bill.

This follows outrage from MPs who said it risks exposing the country’s teenagers to sexual exploitation.

Duale who introduced the omnibus legislation to the House on behalf of the Attorney General said he will seek the Speaker’s consent to have the clause withdrawn from the bill.

“In order to cure this, either we shall introduce a provision or I will go further and maybe write to the Speaker so that, that section is withdrawn, so that it does not reach the Third Reading,” he assured.

The Bill is now expected to come up in the Committee of the Whole House where MPs will scrutinise amendments brought by the House Justice and Legal Affairs Committee and other MPs before voting whether to adopt or reject them.

MPs T.J Kajwang (Ruaraka) and Tim Wanyonyi (Westlands) urged the MPs to reject the proposal because it will expose teenagers who are ideally Form Two students to abuse by sexual predators.

“I think the person who brought this amendment must have his head examined, because this is outrageous. Somebody at the age of 16, is a child, and I believe when we are going to play these kinds of games with our children, then we are not serious. This House should not allow this kind of amendment to see the light of day,” Wanyonyi stated.

Kanduyi MP Wafula Wamunyinyi and Meru County Woman Representative Florence Kajuju questioned the intention of the State Law Office in proposing the amendment.

“Those who set this age at 18 had good thought and good reason and for anyone to want to change it now – and this is what I want to be told, Mr Speaker, and you should tell me – what is motivating this change, what do they want to achieve, what do they want to realise, what is the goal, Mr Speaker, tell me? Wamunyinyi posed, as he made his contribution to the debate.

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Kajwang urged the State Law Office to review the wording of the clause, which he said was intended to protect the boy child who has become the intended victim of the Sexual Offences Act.

“The point should not have been to decrease the age of consent, that is not possible, that is disgusting,” the Ruaraka legislator stated.

According to the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) chairperson Josephine Mong’are who was part of the multi-sectoral team that worked on the amendment, the provisions concern younger individuals who have passed the age of puberty or teenagers who are a few years apart and have willingly had sexual relations.

“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,” Mong’are explained.

She added; “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.”

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