The Federation of Women lawyers in Kenya has thrown its weight behind the controversial bill aimed at lowering the sexual consent age from 18 to 16.
The government of Kenya aimed to amend the Sexual Offences Act through a hidden bill in The Statue Law (Miscellaneous Amendment Bill) 2016.
Girl rights groups were up in arms against the amendment as some members of the public signed a petition seeking to stop parliament from revising the age of sexual consent.
It is feared the amendment could directly lead to the increase of teenage pregnancies and early marriages. FIDA, however, argues that the amendment seeks to protect the boy child.
FIDA national chairperson, Josephine Mongare, says that the bill aims at protecting young teenagers.
Sexual intercourse with someone under the age of 18 years is a crime punishable by jail terms of not less than fifteen years.
Teenage boys therefore suffer long sentences of 15 years and above for sexual offences that involve girls of their peers.
“If you do an audit now in our prisons you will find young boys of 20 and 21 years serving jail terms over sexual offences involving their peers and their life is ruined.”
”This bill is meant to save teenage boys who the law leans on them alone when it comes to sexual offences,” Mongare said.
She further pointed out that the law requires sexual offenders to be listed on a permanent register, which she says has ruined many teenagers’ lives.
If passed, the proposed law will give room for a review of sexual offenders punishment by considering the age gap between the victim and offender.
“If the age gap is 2 years or three years, then the court will be considerate in passing its judgement. But if the man is 25 years-old or more, then the court will be able to determine that such a person knew they committed the offence with a child,” Mongare added.