Members of the National Assembly today threw cold water on proposed amendments to the Sexual Offenses Act that if passed by the house will see the consensual age with regards to defilement reduced from 18 years to 16 years.
The legislators said that it was wrong for any individual to come up with such a law knowing that an individual who is 16 years is still a child under her parents care.
The Mps also took issue with another amendment that if passed will protect the rights of a sexual offender for the purposes of ensuring that all avenues of appeal have been exhausted before a court declares the sexual offender as a dangerous sexual offender.
According to the members, opening such a window will not only be abused but will also give sexual offenders the lee way to engage in sexual offenses.
While contributing to the amendment contained in the statute law (Miscellaneous Amendments bill) that has an amalgamation of various amendments sponsored by leader of Majority Aden Duale, the mps said that the move is taking the country backward especially now where the legal age of an individual is known to be 18 years.
Last evening, Duale said that he will withdraw the particular clause of the bill that seeks to reduce the age of consensual sex, saying that it had been an oversght.
The members pleaded with the house to reject the amendment and even proposed it be committed to the Justice and legal affairs committee for scrutiny before it is passed as in its current form it is undermining the rights of Kenyan children.
In the bill, the amendment not only reduces the consensual age but also seeks to provide and correct some expressions that have been used before such as penetration which will not only means the insertion of genital organs but also fingers of a person, and objects in to the genital organs of another.
The amendments however protect the rights of persons who are lawfully married as it seeks to criminalize intentional and unlawful sexual acts as well as seeks to provide that a register of sexual offenders should be updated on a monthly basis.
Mps Wanjiku Muhia(Nyandarua) Florence Kajuju (Meru), Tom Kajwang (Ruaraka) Joseph M’eruaki(Igembe North) and Ken Okoth (Kibra) said that there is no way they can allow such a fraudulent law to pass in the house.
Muhia said that it is known very well that 18 years is the right age of maturity and thus lowering the age to 16 years exposes young children to abuse.
M’eruaki termed the bill as very dangerous saying it is known that children under 16 years are still under the care of their parents.
He said: “This is a dangerous bill. Why should we reduce the age from 18 years to 16 years, we know very well that a 16 year old is a child who is still under the care of the parents .”
Kajuju said that passing the said amendments will be an illegality because the legal age of an adult is 18 years.
She said: “this amendment is bad. We cannot as a nation agree to be parties to an illegality by allowing this amendment to go through. The legal age of maturity is 18 years; it is very illegal to imagine we can reduce from 18 to 16.”
Okoth said that girls under the age of 15 and 16 years are too young to even make decisions on their own as they are still under the care of their parents.
Kajwang took issue with the law saying that many of the times the drafters off the law takes advantage of the situation and sneak in mischievous amendments that are unconstitutional in to such a bill as it proposes very many amendments amalgamated in to one.
He said: “t is disgusting to reduce the age of consenting to 16 years.”