Judges in Kenya are proposing that the consent age for sex be lowered from 18 years to 16 years.
Three judges at the country’s Court of Appeal made the proposal for the sex consent law to be changed.
The three judges, Roselyn Nambuye, Daniel Musinga and Patrick Kiage in a ruling said Kenya must consider changing it’s Sexual Offences Act.
The judges are against lengthy jail terms for young men convicted of defilement.
This latest proposal is coming at a time the judges reversed a 15-year sentence imposed on a man who impregnated a 17-year-old girl.
A national dialogue
The Standard Media reports that the judges want a national discussion on challenges of maturing children, morality, autonomy and protection of children.
The judges also ruled that there is the need for proportionality in punishing sex pests.
They stressed that many men are languishing in jail for having sex with teens “who were willing to be and appeared to be adults”.
According to the judges jailing such men for longer years after such sexual encounters is an unfolding tragedy.
“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,” the judges ruled.
Teenagers engage in sex
The judges ruled that it is unrealistic to assume that teenagers and maturing adults do not engage in sex.
“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.
That is the mystery of growing up, which is a process, and not a series of disjointed leaps,” the judges ruled.
They added that “We need to add as we dispose of this appeal that the Act does cry out for a serious re-examination in a sober and pragmatic manner.”
Reactions to proposal
There have been reactions from Kenyan to this proposal. Some of those reactions have been shared by many on social media.
— ktn (@KTNKenya) March 26, 2019
On the proposal to lower the age of consent: There are far too many men in prison in Kenya who were jailed for sleeping with women in their age groups, and it needs a legislative solution.
— John Ngirachu (@JohnNgirachu) March 26, 2019
We don’t need to lower the age of sexual consent in Kenya we already have too many child sex abuse cases, pregnancy and a lower age of sexual debut often with an adult.
You are not allowed to drink,smoke,go to a pub or even have an ID at 16. pic.twitter.com/QRhicDGvYu
— Khatlady (@HerStoryAfrica) March 26, 2019
Kenyan Judges contemplating to reduce the age of consent to 16 from the normal 18!Unfortunately Kenya not ready for a Sweet 16 nation.I see a lot of gender and sexual violence on our young and growing ladies if this sees the light of the day
— Kowa Fredrick (@KowaTheGreat) March 26, 2019
Kenyan’s government in 2017 dropped a proposal to reduce the age of consent from 18 to 16 for sexual activity.
The controversial proposal was criticized by many rights groups including gender activists.
Many female MPs were also angered by the proposed change during the various reading sessions at the time.
Individuals who engage in sexual activity with persons aged 17 or younger risk being prosecuted for rape.