Lower consent age will tear social fabric – cleric

Archbishop says at 16 children are still immature and should concentrate on studies

In Summary

• Lowering the age of consent will contribute to an increase in school dropouts and early marriages, cleric says

• Three judges of the Court of Appeal want the Sexual Offences Act amended

Archbishop Timothy Ndambuki
LET THEM STUDY Archbishop Timothy Ndambuki
Image: FILE

A senior clergyman has said the debate on lowering the age of consent will tear apart society's moral fabric.

Archbishop Timothy Ndambuki of the African Brotherhood Church opposed the proposal on Sunday when he presided over the opening of a new church at Syotuvali in Mbooni.

"At 17 years and below, the majority of our girls and boys are still in school. Psychologically, they are not ready to engage freely in some things because they are not yet adults," he said.

"Lowering the age of consent will only contribute to an increase in school dropouts and early marriages. Therefore, morality will be watered down," he said.

Three judges of the Court of Appeal argued the Sexual Offences Act should be amended because some sections can lead to injustice. The judges are Roselyn Nambuye, Daniel Musinga, and Patrick Kiage.

In their argument, they said Kenyan prisons are teeming with young men serving lengthy sentences for having had sex with underage adolescent girls. Their consent has been held immaterial because the girls were under 18 years. The unfolding tragedy should be addressed urgently, the judges said..

Ndambuki, who is also the chairman of the National Council of Churches Kenya, said the church does not oppose debate the contentious issue.

"Let's allow our girls and boys to go through school first and mature mentally. Treating them as adults at the age of 16 will be like trying to introduce them to social behaviour that they cannot handle because their minds are still young," he said.

On politics, the preacher said that the Church fully supports President Uhuru Kenyatta in the war on corruption.  He cautioned leaders against politicising efforts by the government to fight graft.

 "We must all support the war against corruption and stop the politics. Kenyans will not feed on politics. Kenyans want to see development and anyone standing in the way is an enemy of the people," Ndambuki said.

He praised Makueni county for having been given a clean bill of health by the Auditor General in his report of 2017-2018.

Ndambuki said this showed that Makueni was leading in the fight against corruption and other counties should emulate it.