26 March 2019

Kenya: Why Court of Appeal Judges Want Age of Consensual Sex Lowered to 16 Years

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The Court of Appeal has made a proposal to have the sex consent age lowered from the current 18 years to 16 years.

According to Judges Roselyn Nambuye, Daniel Musinga and Patrick Kiage, lowering sex consent age is long overdue as men were languishing in jail for sleeping with teens "who were willing to be and appeared to be adults."

"Our prisons are teeming with young men serving lengthy sentences for having had sexual intercourse with adolescent girls whose consent has been held to be immaterial because they were under 18 years. They may not have attained the age of maturity but they may well have reached the age of discretion and are able to make intelligent and informed decisions about their lives and their bodies," the judges ruled.

The judges were compelled to make the decision after reviewing a case of a man who had been sentenced to serve 15 years in jail for impregnating a 17-year-old girl. The girl had just completed form four when she got pregnant.

The girl's father and the father of her baby agreed on Sh80,000 dowry, with the area chief as the witness.

It is only after the man failed to pay the dowry that he was arrested. The man was released on Friday after being in jail for eight years.

"This appeal epitomises for the umpteenth time the unfair consequences that are inherent in s critical enforcement of the Sexual Offences Act, No 3 of 2006 and the unquestioning imposition of some of its penal provisions which could easily lead to a statute-backed purveyance of harm, prejudice and injustice, quite apart from the noble intentions of the legislation," the court ruled.

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