NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 15 – Members of the National Assembly on Wednesday rejected changes to the Sexual Offences Act, which would have among others seen men who ogle at women face stiff penalties.
MPs rejecte the Bill sponsored by Busia County Woman Representative Florence Mutua when Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso put the matter to vote.
Laboso proposed the question for a second time to enable her give a definite outcome of the voting which was done through acclamation.
Legislators concluded debating the Bill last week where male MPs expressed concern that if the amendment was passed, punishment would be meted for as little as looking at the opposite sex without their consent.
The MPs Robert Mbui (Kathiani), Jimmy Angwenyi (Kitutu Chache North) and Paul Otuoma (Funyula) found the proposal to define “any contact with a person body parts including breasts, buttocks intentionally without penetration” subject to abuse and open to misinterpretation.
“One may be in a crowded Public Service Vehicle and the driver applies emergency brakes leading to people getting into contact with another person which is inevitable. We need to be careful to iron out some of those areas which might bring problems to those who innocently find themselves in such circumstances,” Otuoma stated.
“It is not fair for our female colleagues to insinuate that when I am looking them, like the way I am looking at them now, it means that am desiring them,” David Wafula (Saboti) said.
“How would she know my eyes are lustful, when they are not? I may be seeing her as a sister,” North Imenti MP Rahim Dawood also interjected as MPs got excited by remarks from women MPs.
Angwenyi on his part added:”Is the Honourable Member in order to challenge God who gave us eyes to look at people and things to admire, so that we can make advances if necessary.”
Female MPs including Mutua and Susan Musyoka said the amendment has been occasioned by the discomfort women go through as some men lustfully undress them as they go about their business.
“They look at a woman, undress her and even do the act without even touching the woman, so this should not be allowed. It makes you very uncomfortable about your work and then when I hear it being sang in the FM stations, that song of ‘Kula kwa Macho’, it is so explicit,” she said amid cheers from her male counterparts.
The Bill also spells out similar heavy penalties for families who marry off the victim to the offender or prevents police officers from conducting investigations or distorts evidence.
“The Bill seeks to expressly prohibiting plea bargaining and collusion in sexual offences which help the perpetrators of sexual offences evade justice,” the Bill’s Memorandum of Objects and Reasons states.
The Bill also required all police stations have special units to deal with sexual offences, and that offices are trained to investigate such cases.
It also calls for special units within the National Police Service are equipped with modern equipment and specialised staff to handle rape cases.