Safeguarding the rights of the girl child

The Sexual Offences Act stipulates that persons under the age of 18 years are considered children and therefore cannot give consent

In Kenya, three Court of Appeal judges, Daniel Musinga, Roselyn Nambuye and Patrick Kiage, are angling for an amendment of the Sexual Offences Act. The proposal is aimed at reducing the age of consent from 18 to 16 years. The discussion highlights the issue of predatory exposure and the role of society in protecting the rights of children.

The Judges argue that the supposed ‘victims’ are well aware of what they were doing. Citing the fact that the Kenyan prisons well full with unsuspecting young men who erroneously slept with 18 year old girls who may or may not have given off the impression that they were of age. The Judges are of the opinion that the young girls may not have attained the age of maturity, but they may well have reached the age of discretion to make intelligent and informed decisions.

To further buttress their stance, they cited the case of Eliud Waweru, a man imprisoned after he impregnated a girl who had just completed high school. Waweru was detained and charged after he failed to pay the dowry agreed upon with the girls’ parents. The Judges argued that he’d have been off the hook if he committed to marriage, but failure to commit saw him on the wrong side of the law.

The Sexual Offences Act, enacted in 2006, is a landmark law aimed at reducing the advent of sexual abuse, harassment and violence, as well as early and forced child marriages. It stipulates that persons under the age of 18 years are considered children and therefore cannot give consent. It is therefore a crime for anyone to engage in sex with a child.

Priscilla Nyokabi, the Nyeri Women Representative in 2017, after the initial amendment to reduce the age of consent was rejected, argued that biological and social maturity are mutually exclusive. Continuing, she expressed that the overall intent of the law was to protect women, children, boys and girls.


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